A number of groups thought language nests could be a positive approach to children's language development, but emphasized that the programs must be based on how children learn language in their Aboriginal context. A language nest based on an English model of language and literacy development would likely not be effective in helping children acquire an Aboriginal language. They also suggested that, given the language use situation in the NWT, language nests must focus on families, so that adults also acquire the language and can reinforce it at home. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation funds one language position in each of its child development centres. All the language teachers visited immersion programs in southern Canada to see how they worked elsewhere, and to reinforce the idea of using the language at all times.
To be used, the language needs to be seen as useful in people's everyday lives. To promote language use, some groups felt the GNWT needed to provide more materials in Aboriginal languages. Materials written in plain language would make them easier to translate, and easier to understand in English.
Possible role for the Literacy Council
People felt the Literacy Council should be able to help dispel myths about language learning, and the benefits that come from knowing more than one language. They also felt that we should be able to do more to promote the use of Aboriginal languages and literacy. Some groups also saw the possibility of partnering with us to research how children learn their language and develop literacy in that specific language. They also endorsed our work in plain language, seeing it as a means to more easily provide translations of materials.
Some of the specific activities that people suggested we might become involved in included:
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