1. Leave English behind.

2. Make yourself understood with nonverbal communication.

3. Teach in full sentences; teach in conversations.

4. Aim for real communication in your language of heritage.

5. Language is also culture.

6-Focus on listening and speaking, rather than writing and grammatical analysis.

7. Activities for master and apprentice to do together.

8. Audio and videotaping.

9. How to be an active learner.

10. Be sensitive to each other's needs; be patient and proud of each other and yourselves!

This is a set of pointers for master-apprentice teams, or people who might want to be master-apprentice teams for their language of heritage.

1. Leave English behind. During the 20 hours per week that masters and apprentices will be working together (or however many hours you commit yourselves to), aim for communicating only in your language; try not to use English at all. At first there will be difficulties because the apprentice will not be able to understand or communicate. You can enhance communication with mime (gestures and actions and facial expressions), objects and pictures, context, and rephrasing what you are trying to talk about (see 2).

(a) Basic questions. Early on as an apprentice, you should learn how to ask things in your language. You should learn how to ask 'What is this?" and 'What is that?" (Remember, in most languages there will be lots of different words that translate into English as "that" or "this," depending on how far away something is or what kind of thing it is.) Or ask, 'How do you say X"? (If you were trying to learn Spanish, and wanted to know the word for table, the sentence would be "¿Cómo se dice 'table' en español?" In Karuk one can say simply, "piipi 'table'?") Other questions to learn might be, "What are you doing?" or "What am I (or what is he) doing?" Or maybe, "Tell me a story." (But see also point 5.)

(b) Reminding each other. Another important thing for the apprentice to learn early is how to communicate the idea: "Now say that in our language" Whenever one of you says something in English, it would be a good custom for the other to ask for it to be resaid in your language.

(c) If you lapse into English, get right back into your language. Think of English as a habit you are tying to break. Some of us have gone to weight-loss programs where the staff says, "If you go off program and binge, don't think of yourself as awful, don't decide you can't do it and give up; just put it behind you and get back on the program again." Do the same for your language.

2. Make yourself understood with nonverbal communication.

(a) Actions. At the workshop, Nancy Richardson and Terry Supahan demonstrated the enormous value of acting out what you are trying to say. If you are the teacher, your apprentice will understand better; if you are the apprentice, you can help your teacher understand what you are trying to communicate even when you don't know the words. More importantly, research suggests that we learn much better if we learn words embedded in actions.

Examples: Think about a basketry lesson. As Nancy Richardson demonstrates, she is able to teach not only words for basketry materials, but also action words, commands like "Sit down" and "Pick up the sticks," and words like "under" and "over" making us learn by doing the actions. Or if you don't know the word for a man swimming, for instance, perform the actions of a person swimming in order to get your teacher to understand what you are asking. Teachers can also mold apprentice actions to get them to understand; when Steve Thorne was teaching us the Hindi gesture for "come here," he went over to the person he was working with and took his arm and actually brought him over, to show what it was he wanted the person to do.

(b) Gestures and facial expressions. Point to things you are talking about, do facial expressions that illustrate what you are talking about. Remember that the appropriate gesture for something differs from language to language, and gestures themselves can be what you try to teach in a language lesson. In Karuk, for example, it is impolite to point with the finger---one points with the whole hand, palm up. In Havasupai, one points with pursed lips instead.

(c) Pictures and objects. If you have the things around you that you are talking about, you can use them to help convey your meaning. Use books and magazines and talk about what you see in them.
At the training workshop, Matt and Agnes Vera told us of one thing they do, which is to watch TV with the sound turned off, and just talk in Yowlumni about what is going on.

3. Teach in full sentences; teach in conversations. Even though often you will be trying to teach or learn specific words, the real lesson comes by embedding the words in sentences and conversations that are in your language.

Example: If you are trying to teach the word for door, don't just say "door," and don't use English to translate the word or explain it. Instead, speaking always in your language, say things like, "This is a door." Ask, "Where is the door?" Say, "Now I am going to open the door. Now I'll close the door. I'm knocking on the door." Tell the apprentice, "Open the door." "Close the door." Extend communication further using gestures to help in your communication say, "It's hot in here! Let's open the door." Or tell the apprentice, "Go out the door." Then say, "Now, close the door." Then, "Now, knock on the door." When s/he knocks, say, "Come in!"

It is very important for the apprentice to hear a word or sentence many times before s/he learns to recognize it, and then to say it. Through varied sentences, including commands, along with the physical activities elicited by the commands, the apprentice hears a given word (in this case "door") many times in different contexts, and will be able to pick out that word in the future when s/he hears it, and later on be able to use it in his or her own speech. The teams should remember the adage used by language teachers that comprehension precedes production -in other words, an apprentice should focus on learning to recognize and understand the words and sentences. Being able to actually say the words and sentences will naturally follow.

4. Aim for real communication in your language of heritage. Aim at doing every thing in your language. Once the apprentice can do some basic communication, don't start your sessions by saying in English, 'What shall we do today?" Say it in your language. If you need a break, say, "Let's have some coffee" in your language, not in English. If you know how to greet each other in your language, never do it in English. As we advised at the workshop, if you get sick and tired of each other, get angry in your language, not English. Don't think of your language as something you do just during lessons, but as the language of communication between you two always, and with other people too who know the language or are trying to learn it. Someday, even if the house caught fire, maybe you would be so accustomed to speaking your language that you would yell "Fire!" in your language of heritage! Is this going too far? Well, it's something to think about, anyway

 

5. Language is also culture. Your language is not just a translation from English, Learning your language of heritage also means learning about all kinds of customs, values, and appropriate ways of behaving.

Examples: I mentioned using gestures to communicate; learn how to do gestures in your culture of heritage.

We said above that the apprentice should learn how to ask various questions, such as "What's this?" or "What are you doing?" Such questions may actually be impolite in your language of heritage, and you may need to learn a polite way to get your point across. While storytelling is a good activity for language teaching and learning, it is probably the case that many stories are not supposed to be told in the summertime. Learn about the stories and the restrictions governing them.

A great deal of vocabulary is embedded in traditional ways of life. Doing traditional activities such as participating in ceremonies, or traditional food-gathering, or making or using objects such as traditional houses, tools, weapons, or cooking utensils will be important for language learning. In some cases, the master and apprentice may not know how to do these things; in that case, maybe you can go to someone else together for help. Or maybe no one knows these things anymore; in that case, reading some of the old ethnographies might be useful, to learn about both vocabulary and traditional cultural practices.

 

6-Focus on listening and speaking, rather than writing and grammatical analysis. Writing and grammar have important uses, but you don't need to focus on these to learn to speak a language. Language learning in classrooms is sometimes only about writing and grammar, but people almost never learn how to speak a language fluently when writing and grammar are the focus. So we urge you to focus on listening and speaking.

You don't have to know

what a relative clause is

to use one.

Remember these points:

(a) The apprentice can learn the grammar of the language unconsciously, simply by hearing it and using it. That is how children learn grammar, and despite what we have been told in the past, adults can still learn new languages the way children learn their first language. You don't have to know what a relative clause is to use one.

(b) Although writing things down is a nice crutch for reviewing words, you only really learn them by hearing them and saying them many times. A team needs to make sure that vocabulary items are used in conversation over and over for a long period of time; that is the way they will be learned.

(c) One bad thing about writing is that it makes pronunciation suffer. A better memory aid is to have the words and sentences you are trying to learn recorded on tape by the teacher (see 8).

(d) Writing also tends to make us insert English too much into the learning process, because we are likely to write English translations beside the words and sentences in the language of heritage. Communities who have long used writing as part of language learning in the schools report that when the children write in the language of heritage, it is quite changed and much more like English.

However, this is not to say that you should give up all writing and grammatical analysis. Grammatical analysis may in the long run be very useful; languages might have a lot of special constructions and affixes that are hard to learn, and one might want to study these seriously and consciously. Also, many communities already have writing systems, and becoming competent in your language might include competency in reading and writing. Writing a language, so long as it is not always tied to an English translation, might be something you want to develop as a new form of language use for your community. You might want to use writing to record old stories, or write letters to each other, or begin a new art form of poetry. But just remember that to learn how to speak a language fluently, writing and grammar are not as important as just listening and talking, talking and listening.

 

7. Activities for master and apprentice to do together. One question people always ask is, "What do we do to learn/teach the language when we are together?" Here are some of the most important things you can do.

Maybe you'd rather relax

and watch a baseball game

or the World Cup on TV.

Just turn the sound down

and be your own announcers.

(a) Live your daily life together. Don't think of this time together as outside of your normal patterns of living. Do you have to do the laundry? Do it, and talk about what you are doing in your language. Do you want to go gambling? Do it, but only use your language. Do you want to fix your car, go to the store, plant a garden, paint your house, cook supper? Do it in your language. Would you like to take a drive or a walk? Maybe you'd rather relax and watch a baseball game or the World Cup on TV. just turn the sound down and be your own announcers.

(b) Do traditional activities. (See 5.)

(c) Play-act. This might be hard for some because it might seem too childish; but think of yourselves as children, for they are the best language learners in the world. Put yourselves into pretend situations and try to use the language to ad them out. Play with hand-puppets and act out a traditional story. This sort of activity is easiest for those masters and apprentices who are involved in children's language programs as well; you can always justify these childlike activities by saying to yourselves, 'Well, we're really just doing this to prepare a lesson for the kids!"

Examples: Ray and Melodie made a Hupa language video of a waitress and customer in a restaurant. At the training workshop, Sylvia and Claude gave a performance in Mojave of eating together. Terry Supahan tells and acts out the story of the theft of fire in Karuk to his schoolchildren; Sarah Supahan tells "The Three Bears."

(d) Planned lessons. You can also plan out lessons together on a more formal basis. Think of sets of vocabulary words you would like to teach or learn. Bring pictures or objects to work with. Remember to always embed a lesson in real sentences and communication. For example, if you are going to teach the body parts, teach them as a series of commands or questions. "This is my head." "This is my shoulder." 'This is my knee." "Is this my knee?"

(e) Visit other speakers together. Try to get together in groups as much as possible. This is relatively easy for communities with more than one master-apprentice team. The masters can talk to each other, which will be a relief to them-it will be the one time when they can communicate freely and expect the other to understand. By listening, the apprentices will get good exposure to the language. Most of the other activities mentioned above could also be done by the group as a whole.

(f) Teach what you learn. As the apprentice, one way to increase your own language use is to teach what you have learned to someone else. Teach it to your child, or to an interested relative or friend. Many of you are already teaching in schools or in summer programs or evening classes; apply what you learn to those classes.

(g) Have "immersion gatherings." Some tribes run immersion camps, where kids or families come together in a nice place and all activities are conducted in the language. If your community doesn't do that and you don't want to plan something so extensive yourself, you could just have get-togethers, where all the master-apprentice teams, and perhaps other speakers and interested people, could come together for a potluck supper or an overnight trip somewhere. If you want to find out more about immersion camps and how to plan them, Nancy Richardson, Terry Supahan, Ray Baldy and other Hupas, and Matt and Agnes Vera are among those who have conducted them.

... one way to increase your own language use

is to teach what you have learned

to someone else.

8. Audio and videotaping. These can be a very important aid in language learning.

(a) If the elder that you work with finds it objectionable to repeat things often, you can get added practice from tapes. Even if the elder will repeat words often, you will probably still want added practice.

(b) The master can tape all kinds of things, including stories and songs, that the apprentice can listen to, and that the two of you can go over together for added vocabulary, grammar, etc.

Martha Mach suggests that one way to make a practice tape would be to record the elder repeating a word or sentence UP to ten times, leaving a gap of several seconds between each repetition. Then when the apprentice plays the tape, s/he can repeat the item during the gaps.

(c) You might need to drive a lot; you can play audio tapes on your car stereo if you have one, or perhaps on a Walkman when you are driving or walking or just doing chores.

(d) Video can also be used to make practice tapes, with the added advantage that all the gestures and action we have been talking about above can be recorded.

(e) Audio or video can be used to make more formal lessons to teach to classes. (The Hupa videotape mentioned earlier is a good example.)

(f) In the long run, the audio and videotapes you make will be extremely valuable to your family and community as a record of the language as it was spoken by the elders. Label your tapes well, and store them safely. Make copies for safekeeping. Keep in mind that someday you may want to deposit them in a community archive, museum, library, or university, for posterity.

 

9. How to be an active learner. The master does not always have to take charge of deciding what, how, and when to teach. The master is the expert who knows the language and a vast store of cultural knowledge that goes with it, but in many cases the apprentice may know more about teaching. The apprentice should feel free to guide his or her own learning experience as much as suits the relationship and the situation. As the apprentice, you can guide the teaching by asking the master questions about the language, by suggesting what sort of activity you might do on a given day, by setting up play-acting situations, or asking the master to tell you things like what s/he has been doing, tell a story, etc. Your master may have a lot of ideas too, but may need to be encouraged and drawn out. As an active learner, you can also focus on trying to understand what the master thinks is important to do. Which one of you guides the learning the most will depend on the particular team; but aim for making the learning experience a true partnership.

... keep in mind that

anything the master wants to teach

is of great value,

even if it is not

what you had in mind

at the moment.

10. Be sensitive to each other's needs; be patient and proud of each other and yourselves! Personalities and cultural differences will play a big role in how you develop as a team. There may be a "generation gap" between the two of you, as Martha Macri pointed out in the training workshop. Coming to understand each other and respect each other's philosophy, values, and needs is an important part of your partnership. Also, remember that language teaching and learning are bound to produce frustration along the way for both members of the team. If you get frustrated, do something to relieve the tension- talk it out, or change the activity, or take a break.

The master needs to keep in mind that language learning is a slow process, and needs to be patient when the apprentice doesn't learn something as fast as the master thinks s/he should. Being overly critical or teasing someone when they make a mistake will discourage the apprentice from using the language. Learn to correct without being judgmental. When your apprentice says a sentence, it may have lots of errors and it may sound terrible to you; but be proud of the effort he or she is making to learn. Correct errors by simply repeating the sentence correctly. Think of a mother interacting with her toddler: the toddler might say, "Daddy goed in car!" and the mother would respond, "Yes, Daddy went to town in the car!" She is correcting errors, extending the sentence further to increase the child's learning, and expressing pride in her child's language use, all at once.

The apprentice needs to keep in mind that anything the master wants to teach is of great value, even if it is not what you had in mind at the moment. Also learn what things the master gets frustrated about in the language teaching Process and try to find ways to relieve the situation.

If you start to get discouraged, remember that you are doing the best you can, and you deserve to be proud. You are making a heroic commitment to a wonderful cause, by working together to bring your language back from the brink of death.