Incorporating Indigenous Language

Activity Design Project Students will participate in Tłı̨ chǫ Language Revitalization through three digital applications: the Yati Dictionary App; the Tłı̨ chǫ language application; and, the video game ‘How Fox Saved the People’. These applications are the only three available technologies for students to reach the necessary learning objectives required for language revitalization. Students will find themselves at one of three stations for 15 to 20 minute periods and then rotate to be exposed to all three technologies. Educators should use these applications weekly at a set time, to ensure continuity, and student progress.

Rationale

Technology offers a promising avenue for language revitalization efforts. Language applications are popular worldwide, offering opportunities to practice vocabulary and grammar. While some language applications offer traditional pedagogical drills such as listening and repeating, other language applications provide a mixture of vocabulary, reading, speaking, and writing, to help cover different skills learners need to help practice (Walker, 2013). Studies have shown that technology- supported language learning is as effective, or more effective, than language learning with human teachers (Zhao, 2014).Technology can play three roles in learning: the tutor, tutee, or the tool. In the tutor role, technology teaches the learner. As the tutor, language acquisition apps focus mostly on drill-and-practice. As the tutee, the learner teachers the computer. In playing a tutee role, students are involved in making their own learning possible. Consequently, students are constructing a more effective way of garnering knowledge (Papert, 1993). Third, technology as a tool applies to any context where learners are able to complete a and achieve a task. The computer does not teach, nor does it need to be taught, it is one that mediates communication between people.Language applications also provide users with a non-threatening environment, where errors are only known to the user and the application.


Language applications can address some of the performance anxiety learners may feel during learning a foreign language. Moreover, users are able to practice languages at any time of day, for any length of period.Research has shown that the pleasure of learning is correlated to the increase in learning possibilities (Yang, 2007). The game-like feel to language applications provides users with a sense of ‘fun’. Therefore, through the use of language applications, students may not only find language acquisition enjoyable, but acquire the language skills easier or faster (Evseeva, 2015).By using three different applications, students can interact with the Tłı̨ chǫ language and enhance their understanding of Tłı̨ chǫ through independent study in a ‘safe’ way. The three technologies are suitable for any age group of learners. The three technologies do not need a specific level of language understanding for students to use. Moreover, there is little training or technical experience required for the teacher in order for students to use the different applications effectively.These language applications are suitable for the classroom and at home. For classroom management, since the use of these applications is primarily individual, learners will be working independently or can work in partners where technology is limited. The language applications can be introduced effectively at any time in the term as they are appropriate for all levels of Tłı̨ chǫ language learners. The technology can glance and complement traditional language teaching, by providing students with an opportunity to practice grammar and vocabulary in different contexts - thereby creating connections outside of the classroom.


Overview of Goals

Become familiar with different grammar points, vocabulary words, and cultural competencies. Focus language learning through enjoyable tasks, such as exposure to culture and experience, as opposed to rote memorization.Enhance language acquisition through short-term and measurable tasks.


Description of Technology

The Linguistics Department at the University of Victoria created The Yati Dictionary App contains over Tłı̨ chǫ 1,300 words and phrases, alongside pictures and example sentences. The App allows users to add their own words and pictures. Users can compare their voice to the professional recordings. Users can also create wordlists and wordbooks in order to track their improvement. The Yati Dictionary App plays both a ‘tutor’ and ‘tutee’ role for learners; learners have the option to work with language through drill-and-practice programs for independent revision, but are also able to create activities for later.The Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture, and Employment, Yamaha Due Society, and the Tłı̨ chǫ Community Services Agency created a Tłı̨ chǫ language application. This language app allows for practice of the Tłı̨ chǫ language through games and quizzes. Users are exposed to everyday ‘categories’ such as food, actions, commands, family, and greetings. The Tłı̨ chǫ language application, much like the Yati Dictionary App, takes on both a tutor and tutee role. Learners are able to construct knowledge through trial and error by teaching the computer.Two students at the University of Toronto created a video game around the Tłı̨ chǫ folk story “How Fox Saved the People”. Players must help Fox save the starving people by solving the mystery of the disappearing caribou. To do so, players must find their way through the lang, collect firewood, and pick berries. Players experience the activities in a Tłı̨ chǫ immersion environment, with optional English subtitles.

Justification

In 2011, 58 percent of the 2,745 Tłı̨ chǫ people living in Tłı̨ chǫ lands spoke Tłı̨ chǫ Yatii (Tłı̨ chǫ language). In 2016, the number of Tłı̨ chǫ speakers dropped to 47 percent. Due to the stigma and silence imposed on the Tłı̨ chǫ who attended residential schools, and the exposure of Tłı̨ chǫ children to English-language television and technology, the Tłı̨ chǫ speaking population is expected to continue to shrink. Teachers are able to help reconnect Tłı̨ chǫ children with their language and culture.Tłı̨ chǫ students currently attend field trips where they participate in traditional activities, such as checking fish nets, hunting, and trapping. The Tłı̨ chǫ language, however, also needs room to grow and the use of online activities can help engage and encourage participation in learning Tłı̨ chǫ Yatii. Providing students the ability to help foster their knowledge of their traditional language through tablets and computers creates initiative for students to learn and speak Tłı̨ chǫ on their own time.

Video games and applications have emerged as powerful pedagogical tools. Technology requires active participation, therefore stimulating learning through the combination of storytelling, which is traditional in Tłı̨ chǫ culture, as well as reinforcement through task achievement. Continuous exposure to common themes and words allows users to build up vocabulary and simple sentence structure.

First Time Use

For one class, educators should demonstrate the use of each application withstudents, and allow students time to ‘play’ with the applications to garner familiarity.The purpose of these classes is to learn, and time should not be spent figuring outhow to work the application.For each technology, educators should model what is expected, including routines.Teachers should demonstrate what comes first, what the next step is.Teachers should have a word bank worksheet, or some other graphic organizer, readythat they expect students to fill out while using the technology. This lesson is a good time to introduce the graphic organizer. It is recommended that only one graphic organizer is used so students become familiar with it, and are not learning something new alongside of learning how to use a new technology.


Description - Student

Students will have the option of sitting at one of three stations. Each station will be equipped with an iPad with one of the three language applications set up.Students will spend fifteen to twenty minutes (depending on time constraints) using the language application. Students should be filling out word banks, or thoughts, as they go. Journalling about learning assists in solidifying language acquisition.Students should find themselves becoming engrossed in the applications and video game.Students should additionally be drawing parallels between aspects of this game and every day life, such as caribou hunting.After the time is up, students will switch stations.


Description - Teacher

If it is the first time using the technologies with the class, a class prior should be used to demonstrate and practice its use with students.Students should be familiar with the set up of the technologies so that the time period is spent learning, as opposed to figuring out how the application works.Teachers should be walking around and observing students as they interact with the applications. Teachers should also be ensuring students stay on task.It is beneficial to try to touch-base with as many students as possible during this technology period to evaluate their learning.Teachers should ask questions relating to what words students have learned and how what their learning is reflected in their every day life.


Means of Evaluating


All three technologies can provide diagnostic assessments to determine the needs of a learner, test proficiency and highlight how ‘good’ a learner is at something, and as a summative tool to establish how much Tłı̨ chǫ a learner has a achieved at the end of the day or course.Educators should be able to see student achievement through daily activities following the use of language technologies. In building their understanding of the Tłı̨ chǫ language through the language applications, students should be able to perform better during conversational time and during periods of testing. Educators should be able to see that students can express themselves in Tłı̨ chǫ better, following each session which incorporates the language applications.To track student outcomes, teachers should work with language applications weekly. Before the start of a session, teachers can provide students with blank word banks. As each application allows the user to direct their learning, students can fill in their word bank as they go. In a time following, students can be quizzed on the words to see how much language has been retained.

Example word bank:Since language is experienced, rather than memorized, language teachers should engage in conversation with students frequently. Teachers should take anecdotal notes during observation to see whether students language learning is improving. Teachers can witness improvement through the grammar structure, and types of words students use. Teachers can also observe the improvement of language through the ways students connect their activities to their every day lives.

Tłı̨ chǫ English Nezi Good

Zhah Snow Łıwedaıdzęę̀ Friday


Citations

Stanley, Graham (2013). Language learning with technology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Walker, A (2013). Technology Enhanced Language Learning. Foreign Language Study. OUP Oxford.Yang, Shu Chin (2007). Technology-enhanced language learning: A case study. Computers in Human Behaviour 23(1): 860-879. Zhao, Yong (2014). Recent Developments in Technology and Language Learning: A Literature review and meta-analysis. CLICO Journal 21(1): 7-27

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