Oral Speaking Ability

While many First Nation dictionaries, books and web sites attempt to teach grammar and vocabulary, rarely do learners hear the spoken word except briefly while taking a course with a fluent speaker. Sadly, motivated students are unable to remember how the language sounds once their class ends. Often students believe they are simply not capable of learning to speak their own language. But if a learner is never given appropriate tools to develop their speaking skills, how can they learn? This site attempts to fill this gap somewhat with audio resources to listen to their indigenous language and practice speaking it. This site will not make you a fluent speaker BUT with daily practice, you will soon be able to recognize and speak numerous common phrases with a fluent speaker, the first step in your journey towards becoming a fluent speaker.

While the act of writing down and being able to read an indigenous language is important to preserve it, it does not allow a person to speak to most fluent speakers who are not trained to read or write in their indigenous language, particularly Elders. Being able to speak to Elders, family members, understand prayers and ceremonies and keeping languages alive for future generations is extremely important to language learners.

The site has many whole phrases rather than just lists of single words. Language is similar to music, while learning single notes is important, it is only when they are combined into an actual song that they resonate with listeners to communicate with others. Listening to whole phrases will train your ear into the patterns of sound, tone and rhythym which are not apparent in single words. Knowing these patterns of sound is very important when learning a langauge and crucial if you wish to speak to others. It also makes lessons in grammar and structure come more easily.

Why Language is Worth Saving

The loss of a spoken language is far more than a loss of words, but is the loss of the cultural knowledge held inside of it. Language is like a container for peoples' knowledge, but each container is unique, based on peoples' differing beliefs, perspectives and ways of life. Spoken language reflects and influences how you observe the world, think and react differently because of your culture. Language influences and frames how you relate and behave with other people, the land, animals, plants,  reveals history, locates events at specific geographic locations, imparts medicinal knowledge. If we let our languages die, we risk losing this traditional knowledge. Language is the key to our identity as a people.

Written by Cathy Wheaton, 2009



©2008 Allan Adam. Photography by Cathy Wheaton. Designed by Serena Samborski.