Article summaries that centre around language revitalization

Take a look at these article summaries, for further reading:


C. Basham. (1999). “Marking one’s place: expressions of identity in Athabaskan student writing,” in Language Sciences issue 21, pp. 355-369

This article looks at how location and language, shapes the worldviews of English speaking Alaskan and Navajo youth. He then says language revitalization strategies should examine indigenous youth’s worldviews, in the development of language goals. I found this article tailored not for indigenous communities, rather for other outside researchers. While his suggestions for language revitalization may be valid, his methods of gathering his data are intrusive and distant. This article contributes to my final paper by exploring and further validating how the landscape is a physical link between people of the past, to the people of the present. Of the student letters he studied for this paper, none of the letters are from adults, nor any from elders. Although the continuity of language revitalization is first with children, the entire community is also needed. This article negates to look beyond letters from children in its exploration of identity through words.


B. Dementi-Leonard, & Gilmore P. (1999). “Language Revitalization and Identity in Social Context: A community-Based Athabascan Language Preservation Project in Western Interior Alaska,” in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 37-55

This article describes community language planning and revitalization efforts in interior Alaska. The article looked at community generated, and owned language activism, creating a necessary space for the people to imagine and plan their language future. I really enjoyed the community ownership of the language conference, and the tangible planning steps that came out of them. This article contributes to my final paper in its exploration of community involvement and ownership. One unanswered question I have, is what involvement did urban Alaskan First Nation people have in any of the conferences? Also, I am curious what has been done since this article was written in 1999?


Moore P., & Tlen D. (2007). “Indigenous Linguistics and Land Claims: The Semiotic Projection of Athabaskan Directionals in Elijah Smiths Radio Work,” in Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Vol.17,Issue 2, pp.266-286

This article explores the use of a Southern Tutchone narrative that asserts not only land rights but identity as well. The researchers find meaning within the breadth of knowledge that a speaker has in describing the place of his story, to how that knowledge has adapted in today’s contexts. A strong paper that is fascinating to me, showing how the complex use of directional’s used in a story, asserts land rights. The activism of the day for Elijah Smith was primarily land claims, today language is taking a more prominent role in our society, yet the richness of identity carries through beyond the land claims battle to today’s language revitalization battle. This understanding of language, this use of language is new to me, but the possibilities for future work is great. Elijah Smith’s recording with Solomon Charlie was largely focused on assisting in the land claims process, what might a high-level proficient speaker focus on today? What differences would there be if any?


Henze R., & Davis A. K. (1999). “Authenticity and Identity: Lessons from Indigenous Language Education,” in Anthropology & Education Quarterly 30(1) pp. 3-21

This essay looks at how identity and authenticity is defined in specific north American indigenous communities. It then places these in a larger worldview, bringing in other minority groups who also are attempting to revitalize their languages. I really enjoyed this article. In particular, I found the critique of Joshua Fishman’s scale very liberating. I too struggled with Fishman’s ‘outsider’ simplistic scale that does not portray the complex realities of our communities. This article can contribute to my paper in its exploration of indigenous languages fluid identity. As well, the article challenges me to look at, ‘why save the language’ which is a question I cannot forget. This article is also a summary of an issue that looks to answer authenticity and identity from various authors, I would love to explore the entire issue.



Carr G. & Meek B. (2013). “The Poetics of Language Revitalization: Text, Performance, and Change,” in Journal of Folklore Research 50.1-3 pp. 191-216

This article critiques 4 revitalization projects in the Yukon Territory, exploring the over reliance on linguistic methods of learning and teaching. The authors provide an alternative perspective, that being the performance of the language. I can’t believe the authors said this! This article validates and affirms my beliefs on what I have been force-fed and lead to believe is beneficial in our territories schools. I can use this article in my critique of language programs in our Yukon Schools, possibly also in recommendations of change. I think this article could have explored the history of language programs in our schools. Our programs though now are seen for what they are, ineffectual, did have a lengthy history of activism to even be there in their sub-standard forms.


Dauenhauer L. R. (2005). Seven hundred million to one: Personal action in reversing language      shift. Études/Inuit/Studies, 29, 267-284.

In this article Richard Dauenhauer, an Alaskan linguist who has worked with the Łingit language for 35 years, offers strategies and advice for Indigenous people in language revitalization efforts. Most notably he showcases Indigenous literature, as a means to transform lives and languages with little documentation. A strength of this article are the many stories he provides that showcase forward momentum in Łingit language revitalization. While a weakness is how little he acknowledges Indigenous language champions. This article has many useful strategies and points, to name a few; “surrogate survivors”, preservation or revitalization, racism barriers and the power of Indigenous literature.


Hyslop, K. (2006, September 11) How Chief Atahm Elementary School became a success story.           The Tyee. Retrieved from

Kathy Hyslop a reporter for, “The Tyee” a B.C. based newspaper, interviews Kathy Mitchel and Robert Mathews on the Chief Atahm Elementary schools history, challenges and triumphs. The article most notably shares Kathyʼs language journey that speaks volumes to her dedication and resiliency to make a difference in her languages revitalization. The biggest strength of this article are the testaments of dedication that Kathy clearly has in spades. The biggest weakness is the authorʼs clear judgements on Indigenous people, seen in the first paragraph when she talks of what failing Indigenous students are “costing the rest of us.” The positive take home message from this article are some of the strategies outlined in Kathyʼs story in creating an Immersion school. Parental involvement and inclusion, adapted curriculum that comes from parents and teachers, and a real story of rags to riches with fluency being the riches.


Nicholson, Rangi.  (1989).  Maori Total Immersion Courses for Adults in Aotearoa New Zealand: A Personal Perspective.  [Washington, D.C.] : Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse,

A very informative article by Maori language activist, Rangi Nicholson outlining the steps his language community undertook in developing Maori adult language immersion retreats. From their humble beginnings 35 years ago to accredited retreats that have course outlines, timetable, and course outcomes a truly inspiring article well worth the read. The strengths of this article is the detailed journey the adult immersion course went through outlining the struggles and successes along the way. The only weakness is how old the article is, published in 1989. Although this articles journey is still relevant I would love to know how the program looks today.  This article is a great resource, as adult immersion becomes a likely next step for many Indigenous languages at critical stages of revitalization. Of specific importance are the challenges articulated by the author on staying, ʼin the languageʼ for students and mentors and some of the ways they found success to do so.



Jackson F.H., Kaplan M.A. (Eds.). (2001). Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and practice in government language teaching. Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C.

The joint authors Fredrick Jackson and Marsha Kaplan have done a major service by sharing the Foreign Institutes top ten lessons learned in adult immersion programs that tailors employees for work oversees. Each of the ten lessons learned are both specialized within their programs, but easily relatable to our Indigenous Language efforts. Each of the ten lessons learned outlined are self-contained, backed up by other researchers, and highly pragmatic. The biggest strengths I took away from this article are the many arguments that highlight and prove adult immersion methods. Not only disproving old mythʼs of, ‘iʼm to old to learn a new language.’ but also showing how life experience, motivation, concentration and self-discipline are just as key as ones who have ʼnatural aptitudeʼ to learn a language. Though not a weakness, I would love to see a similar list of lessons learned from Indigenous communities who are similar to my own. Notable teachings or ideaʼs presented in this article: “Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR)” (Jackson F.H., Kaplan M.A., 2001, p. 72) with six base levels, “immersion and excursion” (p. 75), “explicit grammar” (p. 76) benefits, “automaticity” (p. 80) and “pattern practice drill” (p. 80) are just a handful of the many useful ideas presented in this paper.


Reversing Language Shift: Can Kwakʼwala Be Revived. Retrieved from ~jar/RIL_4.html

Stan J. Anonby has done a huge disservice to the Kwakwakaʼwakw people in his work in their community and in the publication of this paper. Speaking from a place of privilege he cites many great Indigenous and non-Indigenous language revitalization efforts, but himself continually degrades and disrespects Kwakʼwala people and their efforts to date. Any strength that can be gleaned from this article are his references of other Language Revitalization efforts such as the Maoriʼs of New Zealand, the Kaurna of Australia or the Meʼphaa of Mexico. The greatest weakness of this article is the damage that this man has done tarnishing the Kwakwakaʼwakw peopleʼs name and reputation, consider the following quote, “Most community members expressed a desire to revive Kwakʼwala but were not willing to do much about the matter personally, preferring instead to make it the responsibility of the schools.”  I personally could not in good conscience cite this man in any work, the sooner we forget this article the better.


Holmes, M., King, K., A. (2013). Ojibwe Language Revitalization, Multimedia Technology, and Family Language Learning. Language Learning & Technology, 17, 125-144. Retrieved from

This article by Mary Hermes and Kendal King documents two families use of an Ojibwe language App titled, “Ojibwemodaa” which is an interactive, “simulated immersion
experience” (p.4) The study found that although two families use of the App was facilitated in English, the families knowledge, comfort, and awareness of Ojibwe increased and pushed them to integrate the language to more natural uses in various circumstances. The strength of this article is the qualitative proof that Indigenous language Apps are now proven methods of furthering ones language proficiency. A weakness of the article is the pool of data is extremely small, only two families participating to the end of the study. One unanswered question I have is, where are the families proficiency in the language today?


Maracle, D.K. & Richards M. (2002) A Native Language Immersion Program for Adults Reflections on Year 1. Proceedings from the Annual Conference on Stabilizing Indigenous Languages. accno=ED462240

In this article David Kanatawakhon Maracle and Merle Richards reflect on their first year of an adult Mohawk immersion program they ran in 1999. They highlight the background, successes and challenges experienced by the facilitators, students and the speakers teaching. A clear strength of this article is the quantified successes experienced that will help other Indigenous communities who are searching for a similar path. A weakness of the article is all the ʼdataʼ articulated is observation based from only two sources. The useful take home message from this article is the necessity of a, ‘readiness courseʼ (p.1) that is done to prepare students for the immersion program. As well as the need to be, “…being highly selective at first…” (p. 9) because as they point out it is these initial students you want on side to teach later in the future.


Fukuda, M. (2014) Dynamic Processes of Speech Development by Seven Adult Learners
of Japanese in a Domestic Immersion Context. American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 47 iss. 4, 729-745. Retrieved from 10.1111%2Fflan.12114?

In this article Makiko Fukuda reports on his study of seven adults who participated in a, ‘domestic immersion experience’ (p. 1) learning Japanese as a second language over the course of 9 weeks. Significant findings of the study shows language learning being a complex process that is non-linear, and should take into consideration language being more than a cognitive resource but a social resource as well. Another significant finding is the students in this domestic immersion experience out performed ‘study abroad’ language programs, as well as second language instruction in term based language courses. A definitive strength of this article is the accurate and precise quantitative measurements used to assess the students progress throughout the 9 weeks. There are key concepts presented in this article that I would recommend immersion based instructors to consider when planning their programs: ‘Dynamic Systems Theory’, ‘emergentist theory’, ‘Intraindividual Variability.’beginners as well as those at higher levels of proficiency. Key observations that Mitchell examines are the importance of a pledge or oath for participants to stay in the language, having a comfortable place to conduct the retreat for all participants, and the use of TPR (Total Physical Response) a method of instruction particularly beneficial for absolute beginners. The author concludes the article by stating how vital cultural activities and materials are for the success of the camps they facilitated.


Zuckermann G., & Walsh M. (2011) Stop, Revive, Survive: Lessons from the Hebrew Revival Applicable to the Reclamation, Maintenance and Empowerment of Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. University of Adelaide and University of Sydney. Retrieved from http://

In this article Ghil’ad Zuckermann and Michael Walsh explore the history of the Hebrew Language revival and it’s possible application for Australia’s Indigenous languages. A major argument made is the need to be more realistic and less puristic in revival efforts. Another theme explored is, ‘revival linguistics’ (p. 14) which acts as an ‘epistemological bridge’ (p.14) between languages of the world. Besides the authors clear outsider perspective prescribing ‘answers’ to Australia’s Indigenous people, the article’s strong points are dampened by a judging tone, which seems to have been written for non-indigenous government officials, not indigenous people. The authors conclude by listing how supporting language revival will improve the lives of indigenous people saving the government money. Though there may be clear teachings to be learned from the Hebrew language revival, this article is preachy and unsettling.