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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ditidaht elders’ strategies for the introduction of immersion programs in a First Nation community Touchie, Bernice


The thesis explores the possibilities for immersion in a First Nation small community whose language survival hinges on the action by the 5% fluent speakers. Curriculum planning is needed at a time when First Nations do not have the resources or experience in teaching their language as a second language and very limited experience with curriculum development and school administration. The author is familiar with the deep emotional desire for effective language programs but the communities cannot find an effective means for truly successful results. The occasional Native teacher searches for methods by learning linguistic strategies or modeling literate classroom lessons. Community leaders face surmounting obstacles while elders pass away with each crucial decade. These obstacles and constraints are not only due to social ills but also to the attempt at developing curriculum with models which do not origninate with the community, the culture, or the language itself. The thesis therefore attempts to find avenues for blending learning strategies of an oral culture and recognizing and validating the culture which embraces the cultural background to the language. The avenues for language revitalization involve ethnographic research which is seen as practical to the community if these are steps toward cultural development. The social issues level is considered as Native language speakers are often adversely effected due to schooling in residential schools. The thesis then concludes the specific needs for the Ditidaht context as concerns community process, as traditional protocol, and as the nature of an effective curriculum (received in generalized concepts from the community interviews). Other First Nation Community strategies are reviewed from many nations throughout Canada and the United States. The Canadian French immersion experience provides a preview into immersion evolution. The research is found necessary for any First Nation community in search of the crucial need for effective second-language curriculum focus.

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