UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Emotion, language, and identity : using language revitalization techniques to create low-anxiety learning environments Achilles, Ricki-Lynn


This thesis examines the interconnectivity of emotions, identity, and language by exploring how each of these factors contributes to language learning, and specifically endangered language learning. Based on an online survey and fieldwork in Saanich, British Columbia, and Atka, Alaska, it specifically analyzes the techniques and methods language revitalization programs use to create low-stress learning environments. The survey, called the Endangered Language Learning Emotion Scale (ELLES), examined the wide range of emotions associated with learning an endangered language, and yielded a total of 97 responses. Its quantitative section consisted of multiple-choice statements, where respondents rated how strongly they agreed or disagreed with a particular statement. The qualitative portion of the survey included an optional space for respondents to provide written feedback. Fieldwork took place in partnership with Where Are Your Keys (WAYK), which is an organization that helps communities develop ways to train people how to teach and learn a language. WAYK hosted a workshop in Saanich, for teachers from the ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School, to cover various language teaching methods that they could apply to their language classrooms. WAYK also works with the community of Atka to help with their language revitalization program at the local school. Data was gathered in each community through participant-observation, and in Atka, through interviews. The survey and fieldwork aspects of this research both found that isolation and lack of resources are challenges in revitalization work. However, the research results found that themes of community, positivity, and dedication were fundamental in opposing these challenges. This thesis also found that a positive language learning environment is critical for language revitalization efforts. It can result in a better sense of community, broadly, as well as an improved sense of belonging and stronger connection to identity for individual learners. This thesis discusses how identity and emotion relate to the aforementioned themes that emerged in the research, as well as how they play an integral role in language revitalization and endangered language learning.

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