The NEȾOLṈEW̱ “one mind, one people” research project investigated adult Indigenous language learning and the contribution that the increasingly popular Mentor-Apprentice Program (MAP) method can make to the language revitalization movement. Neither has yet been widely studied and to date, virtually no published research is available.
In the SENĆOŦEN language can be translated as “one mind, one people” or “doing things as one” and was the central principle of this research partnership. Indigenous languages all over Canada are dangerously at risk of extinction within one generation. Leading scholars and community partners agree that Indigenous language revival is a pressing issue and should be of primary concern for communities and universities alike. To date, documentation and programs focused on children’s learning have been the main foci of the Indigenous language revitalization movement. Yet, increasingly adult learners are being identified as the “missing generation” of learners who hold great potential to contribute to the revival of Indigenous languages by acting as the middle ground between Elders, children and youth within their communities. In addition, the prompt creation of adult speakers of Indigenous languages is essential to meeting the growing demand for pre-school or K-12 immersion language teachers.
This presentation will focus on the findings of this study with particular attention to the efficacy of MAP as well as the ways in which the languages are changing based on the realities of second-language learning and in many cases a ‘generation gap’ in language transfer within the communities.