UBC Theses and Dissertations
n’łəqwcin (clear speech) : 1,000 hours to mid-intermediate N’syilxcn proficiency (Indigenous language, Syilx, Okanagan-Colville, n’qilxwcn, Interior Salish) Johnson, Michele K. (Michele Kay), 1967-
way’, iskwíst (my name is) Sʔímlaʔxw. According to Syilx ways, personal introductions come before any other words. I am Syilx, and related to the Simlas and Richters from Vernon and Ashnola BC. I am an N’syilxcn (n’qilxwcn, Okanagan-Colville, Interior Salish) language learner and teacher. I live in Penticton BC, Canada. Five years ago I arrived in Syilx community to find a critically endangered language and accepted a personal role and responsibility to learn N’syilxcn and teach it to others, as my PhD research. I found allies in beginner intensives: our names are Prasát, C’ər̓tups, X̌wnámx̌wnam and Staʔqwálqs. We committed as a cohort to live in an immersion house in Chopaka BC for five months. We were supported by our Elder, Sʕamtíc’aʔ (Sarah Peterson), and a language activist from Paul Creek Language Association, Chris Parkin. During one long winter, in 420 intensive hours of study, we transformed from k’lp’xwínaʔ (beginning to hear, approximately beginner) to n’łəqwcin (clear voiced, approximately low-intermediate). I created three films in N’syilxcn, and placed them on YouTube to give primacy to our personal narratives, document our transformation, assess our learning and methods, and share our experience and motivation with language learners. My cohort followed second-language acquisition techniques and curriculum which I believe are replicable in other Indigenous languages. In the following pages I introduce N’syilxcn, my cohort, our language house, Paul Creek curriculum, our three films, our language assessment, and dreams and strategies to become n’tłłcin speakers (straightened speech, advanced). I share pedagogical concepts and methods that support adult Indigenous language acquisition, such as N’syilxcn phases of learning, teaching strategies, language assessment, domains of use, immersion, and the transformative power of hard work. I humbly share our experience and my recommendations for Indigenous language learners. One-thousand hours of intensive instruction, following second-language acquisition techniques and honouring our Indigenous contexts, will bring adults to mid-intermediate speech levels. As intermediate speakers, our role and responsibility will become clear: to create immersion workspheres, write advanced materials, teach, and raise children in the language.
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