Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 74

74 Arctic Yearbook 2014 strategies and resources for language vitality in a focused way, if they have their own language policies. Language Acquisition Within this project, language acquisition is understood broadly to encompass the different methods used to teach the language, the different language learners and educators. Many Arctic languages are no longer learned “on the mother’s knee,” but taught more formally in the schools. The language acquisition committee seeks to find out who teaches the languages, who studies them, what materials are available for language learning and what kinds of resources (pedagogical and reference) exist. As one concrete example, pedagogical materials have historically been designed with a single target group in mind, such as school-age children or college students. Language shift in Arctic communities has created challenges for teaching a language to adult learners versus very small children; these needs have not been adequately addressed. There is recognition that different materials and different methods are needed for different age groups, and for different educational experiences. (Immersion-based learning may be realistic in preschool, on the model of Language Nests, but not for middle-aged parents who juggle family responsibilities with full-time jobs, for example.) The committee is exploring different teaching and learning models, including the Master-Apprentice Program, immersion learning, and the use of technology in language learning. Technology can be used for dictionaries and other mobile apps on cell phones and tablets; internet-based communication systems (such as Skype) can be used to connect speakers separated by great distances, or to link teachers to learners. As one example, nomadic schools in parts of the Russian Arctic make it possible for children in some regions to stay with their families who are actively engaged in reindeer herding and still obtain an education.1 One area of concern that quickly emerged is the need for more adequate teacher training. In some areas where language vitality is low, there is an additional challenge of finding teachers with adequate language proficiency to teach. Pan-Arctic challenges include providing sufficient training in modern pedagogical methods; in training teachers to incorporate traditional knowledge and traditional methods in the classroom; and finding new models for sustained training. At present, many regions host short (one- or two-week) workshops for teacher training and for language revitalization. They have clear benefits but longer programs are needed as well. Assessing Language Vitality Existi