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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"They all talk Okanagan and I know what they are saying." language nests in the early years : insights, challenges and promising practices. Chambers, Natalie Alexandra


Indigenous early language learning programs for young children, commonly known as “language nests”, are well established in New Zealand and Hawai‘i. By contrast, in Canada there are few such programs and the concept is not commonly known in Indigenous communities. This study presents the experiences and insights of twenty-one fluent Elders, administrators, language teachers, early childhood educators and parents who have been involved in language nest programs in the start up years. These interviews were shaped by research questions on key issues, challenges and promising approaches. A thematic analysis was used to highlight dominant themes and to honour the words and ideas of the participants. The participants in this study described the benefits that young children and fluent Elders experience through their involvement in early language immersion programs. Research participants shared visions for nests, deeply held beliefs about the need to fully immerse young children in their language, as well as promising approaches. These insights give evidence that Language Nests support young children to understand, speak and sing in the language, and that participation in these programs has the added effect of enhancing the daily lives of involved fluent Elders. This research is presented in service to the reclamation of early learning, Indigenous languages, and intergenerational ways of knowing and being.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada