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2nd LSI 2008
Lakota Language Teachers Sharpen their Teaching Skills
One of the fluent Lakota language speakers stated, “I am fluent in my language but no one has ever taught me how to teach my language.” That has been the goal of the Lakota Summer Institute held at Sitting Bull College this June 2nd to 20th. The Institute is sponsored by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Sitting Bull College, Prairie Knights Casino, and the Lakota Language Consortium. The 23 participants have come from as far a field as the Rosebud, Cheyenne River, and Pine Ridge Reservations, as well as from the K-12 schools on the Standing Rock Reservation.
Three classes have been held daily from 9:00-4:00 PM for the last three weeks and provide credits towards Lakota Language teacher certification. Teachers new to the Institute took a class in Lakota phonology and writing. The class helped teachers improve their ability to teach the unique sounds of the Lakota language to predominately English-speaking kids as well as to teach the consistent standard writing system.
Advanced teachers were able to take a class in Lakota morphology, which helped improve their ability to teach the way Lakota words change when conjugating verbs and in constructing sentences. All teachers also took an afternoon class in language teaching methods. This class focused on improving general language teaching skills with methods adapted from the teaching of other languages. Teachers learned how to use dialogues, games, writing, and reading to help students learn the language more effectively and to make it more interesting. Institute trainers included instructors from Sitting Bull College, the Lakota Language Consortium, Indiana University, and the University of Minnesota.
The Institute has been a particularly important way for the tribe and areas schools to begin addressing the problem of providing professional development in second-language education for Lakota teachers. These educational opportunities have never been available in the region, and the Institute marks a new commitment to improving Lakota language teaching on Standing Rock and neighboring reservations.
In addition to learning new and effective techniques for teaching their traditional language, Lakota teachers are also getting to know teachers from other schools- forming bonds and creating networks. There is a great hope that the Summer Institute will be the start of a new era in the teaching of the language.