Adult Immersion Classes
As a group in our adult class (two teachers and three adult students) we decided to focus on thinking in Mi'kmaw rather than always relying on direct translations from English grammar and thought. This led to a program guiding principal: L'nuita'simk (to think in the Mi'kmaw language).
Although there was no set curriculum or program plan at the outset, the teachers, coordinators and students all worked collaboratively to create class schedules, plan activities and create the lessons materials together. There was a strong inter-dependence between the writing skills of the coordinators (using Smith-Francis orthography) and the oral fluency of the teachers. They were all able to work together, needing support from each other to answer language questions during the program.
The students began the program at varying levels of the language, however, they all worked on developing further and supported each other along the way.
Some of the land-based or hands-on activities included:
-cooking or meal-time
-Spruce root harvesting and preparing
-walking in forest, community, and beach (speaking about what we see/smell/hear)
-arts and crafts (eg. painting, moccasins, quillwork)
-Mi'kmaw hieroglyphs and dance movement
-fire-making (from bow drill and dry wood)
-shelter-making in forest
-maple tree tapping/syrup-making
-making and sharing tea
-dressing and laundry
Students really liked the games in the language to learn, with little pressure, in a fun way.
We took everyday English games and turned them into the language, in a way that we can bring home. The games help put some verbs into real contexts.
Each of the students remarked on their increased ability to:
-introduce themselves in the language by at least tripling their phrases, now being shared from memory
-carry out basic conversation in a small group or while observing/describing transitive verbs (eg. what we are seeing, etc).
-read and understand all the sight words in both classrooms
-talk about basic weather each day in present, past and future tense
-conjugate by memory over 20 verbs in present tense with three single-person voice (eg. I, You, S/he___)
-count animate and inanimate things, dates, and ages
-play question and answer games fully in Mi'kmaw (eg. Guest Who, Who-Am-I, Go-Fish, dice games, and others)
-with memory aids, be able to share land-based or activity-specific vocabulary and phrases that can be practiced and shared with others in the future
Additional Community Resources Developed
The L'sitkuk band asked our program to create some household materials that would be shared with the families at the end of our program. We reviewed, edited, and formatted our vocabulary sheets from our hands-on activity sessions and turned them into a binder for each household. We added in a paper doll activity that we had used in class for learning some verbs and nouns surrounding clothing. We also added in a deck of cards we had created in our program based on the game, "Go Fish", with some of the vocabulary we had practiced. A community youth designed the pictures and Eastern Woodland Printers made up the decks of cards. Included in the household binders are phrases that we use while walking together, rather than simply a vocabulary list. As we recognize that pronunciation and intonation/rhythm are also important in being understood in Mi'kmaw, we took the time in our class to audio record the teachers reading each of the pages of our resource kit. Those files were edited and then placed onto USB jump drives also added in the pocket of the binders. This work took an incredible amount of time, but we made use of the time as review and we were happy to be creating lasting and tangible deliverables for the community.
We developed a few games that assisted us in learning and practicing the language and so we created at least 8 of each game to give to the schools and to house in the language temporary hub (Health Centre room) for community members to loan out. These games come with Mi'kmaw phrases or vocabulary inside the boxes. These games are: Headbanz, Guess-Who, and Left-Right-Centre (dice).