Native Language Cummunity Coordination

“Language is to the mind more than light is to the eye.”
– William Gibson

July 2019

We hope you enjoy this update from the NLCC Training and Technical Assistance Center. Please direct any questions or feedback to Cree Whelshula at


“Bilingual children demonstrate stronger inhibitory control. Inhibitory control leads to increased ability to pay attention, follow instructions, and cooperate socially, which all leads to academic success.”

Resource cited:

Science Daily

What’s New?

Here at Sister Sky, Inc. we are always looking for new and innovative resources to enhance language acquisition and transmission. We’ve provided some neat technological resources to explore for your class to make it fun and engaging.

Upcoming Events

Native Language Summit – Opening Session

The Bureau of Indian Education, Department of Education, and Administration for Native Americans, in partnership with the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), invite you to save the date for our Annual Native Language Summit (NLS). Opening Session, NO REGISTRATION FEE!

When: October 8, 2019; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT

Native Language Workshops

The Bureau of Indian Education, Department of Education, and Administration for Native Americans, in partnership with the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), invite you to save the date! CONVENTION REGISTRATION REQUIRED

When: October 9 - October 12, 2019; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EDT

Language Articles

Teaching to Learn

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

The concept of teaching to learn was brought to me on accident. I was attending Eastern Washington University and learned that the American Indian Studies Program no longer offered the Salish Language and Culture class due to lack of funding. Since I was minoring in Linguistics, I offered to teach the class for college credit instead of being paid. This worked out, and I was able to teach while getting 5 credits per quarter towards my linguistics degree. Although I had been learning my language for 13 years at that point, I had never taught anyone else. I thought to myself, “if someone asks me a question, I do not ever want to respond with, I don’t know.” I dug out all my language materials and began going over vocabulary and linguistic papers and books written by Anthony Mattina (the Okanagan Salish Linguist). I did not just want to know how to say words and phrases, I wanted to understand every morpheme, root, stem, and syntax (Okanagan Salish has at least 5 syntax structures). This experience had launched me through a glass ceiling of understanding that I feel I would have not reached had I not taught that class.

As it turns out, there is some science behind this concept. Neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Lieberman states, “if you learn in order to teach someone else, you learn better than if you learn in order to take a test.” In addition, “when you are socially motivated to learn, the social brain can do the learning and it can do it better than the analytic network that you typically activate when you try to memorize.”

The best way to implement a learning-by-teaching method is to use learners who already have some language experience under their belt. Many times, people teach how they themselves learned. They will utilize their own learning experiences, techniques, and skills to transfer what they know to new learners. An example of this would be high school students who have taken at least 1 language class. They could then sign up to go into the elementary classes to deliver 15-minute language lessons to young children. This not only deepens their own understanding of the language, but teaches them valuable life skills about preparation, time management, leadership, organization, and much more.

Here are some comments from university students who had participating in a teaching to learn project for German language in the United Kingdom.

  • “It was an opportunity for me to revise and test out what I had learned during the course (e.g. teaching methods), and I also gained some valuable experience teaching a foreign language to older students.”
  • “Mainly I learnt how to engage people in certain areas of language study and by flipping the role with me becoming the teacher, I had to learn what I was teaching in more detail and to be more accurate than I probably otherwise would have been.”
  • “I was actually surprised at first by the fact that we were trusted to teach a class, especially first year students. It was a great idea, I enjoyed it a lot and everything went more or less as planned.” (Stollhans, 163)

Resources cited:

Liberman, Matthew, Ph.D. TED. Oct. 2013. Lecture.

Stollhans, Sascha. “Learning by Teaching: Developing Transferable Skills.” ERIC Institute of Education Sciences,

Language Hope

Yurok Language Project: Bridging the Language Gaps from Preschool through College

The Yurok Tribe (Tribe) is the largest aboriginal tribe in the State of California, with over 6,000 members. The Yurok Reservation is located in the far northwest corner of California, 300 miles north of San Francisco, near the Oregon Border. The land of the Yurok has been described many times as the most remote area of the state. The terrain is mostly steep and mountainous and the greatest portion of the Reservation has neither electricity nor telephones. The Reservation runs from the Pacific Ocean, near the town of Klamath, 45 miles upstream past the uppermost village of Weitchpec and encompasses one mile on either side of the Klamath River. Economic development is a daunting challenge due to extreme isolation and lack of infrastructure. Unemployment typically runs around 40% and rises to around 70% during winter months.

Victoria Carlson, Program Coordinator, was greatly influenced by her grandfather who was a First Language Speaker of the Yurok Language. Victoria initially began working in the language in 2001 when a spark was lit in her. She has witnessed Elders work on language revitalization until their last breath and “now it is on us to continue that.” The Yurok tribe has a lot on their shoulders, but Victoria looks forward to “working on the language until I take my last breath.”

Recently PBS had a special on the tribe titled “Saving the Yurok Language.” To view this episode, visit:

Evaluation Proclamations

Facebook Data

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

Social media and technology are continuously evolving to meet the demands and needs of its users. An interesting way that Facebook has evolved is through analytics that you can collect through groups and pages. This information generated can be useful for reporting, community feedback, surveying, outreach, etc.

Victoria Carlson, Yurok Language Program Coordinator interviews key correspondent Georgiana Gensaw, Council Support Assistant

Here are some things that I have learned through my own Facebook groups. I have two Facebook groups, 1) smxicnatkw in the stream (advanced), and 2) We’re going to read in nslxcin (beginner). The group smxicnatkw in the stream is for advanced language learners who are interested in more grammatical and linguistic aspects of the language. We’re going to read in nslxcin is for beginners who would like to learn the sounds, reading, and basic beginning lessons of nslxcin.

Victoria Carlson, Yurok Language Program Coordinator interviews key correspondent Georgiana Gensaw, Council Support Assistant

I initially started smxicnatkw in the stream because not many resources for learners existed to get to an advanced level in nslxcin, and many people would come to me and ask me questions about grammar. I had this group for 2 years prior to starting the beginner group. What I do in this group is I live stream to cover certain topics and encourage people to ask questions live. I had noticed after a while that beginner or low intermediate speakers would join the group. I felt like the type of topics I would cover might be overwhelming and discouraging, so I started the second group. After I started the second group, I noticed I gained members much quicker. While I have had the advanced group for 2 years, there are 165 members compared to having the beginner group for six months with 206 members. By observation, I could surmise that there are more beginner learners interested in starting to learn, versus high intermediate speakers wanting to grow to the advanced level.

Victoria Carlson, Yurok Language Program Coordinator interviews key correspondent Georgiana Gensaw, Council Support Assistant

While Facebook does provide “group insights” to collect data, it does not provide that until membership numbers reach a certain level. For example, if your group or page has 12 members or followers, you would not be able to see a “group insights” option on the back end. Some of the analytics you can collect on Facebook are information like popular days, popular times of the day, and track group member engagement in the groups post. It also tells you how many active members you have. For example, in my beginner group, I have 206 members and out of those 206 there are 154 are active members. Additionally, Facebook will allow you to schedule posts. This means, you can create a post and Facebook will wait to post it until your groups most active time.

Victoria Carlson, Yurok Language Program Coordinator interviews key correspondent Georgiana Gensaw, Council Support Assistant

Facebook groups allows you to change the “type” to social learning. This setting allows you to create an agenda/curriculum, order posts, create units, and track completion of posts within the units. You can monitor these under “group insights” with the other analytic information. Another cool feature under group insights is Facebook offers you the option to download all your analytics into an excel spreadsheet that you can save on your computer.

Lastly, you can create polls to get unique information. Types of information you can gather from polls could be to demonstrate a need for a project or resource, community climate, community knowledge of language efforts or needs, or general community feedback. Using this poll example pictured, 50 Facebook group members would be interested in participating in an online class, but only half of that (25) members said they would be a language teacher if given the opportunity. Information solicited through polls can help in identifying a project direction, interest in future classes, where you should put your valuable time and energy.

Newsletter Info:

NLCC newsletter is a collaborative effort among the NLCC TTA Center staff and subcontractors, the NLCC Cohort, and the ANA. For year 3 of the grant, the newsletter is distributed on the 1st Thursday of the Month. Prior to the distribution, we ask the recipieints to provide highlights and to share information regarding their programs as we continue the implementation of this communication and resource tool. To learn more about NLCC and the NLCC TTA Center go to our website:

If you have any resources, events, or highlights you would like to share, please submit your information to Cree Whelshula at

Thank you for being part of this networking collaboration!

lemlmtš (Spokane Salish – Thank you)
Qe'ci'yew'yew' (Nimiipuu – Thank you)

Contact Info:

Cree Whelshula
NLCC Training and Technical Assistance Director

ANA: Administration for Native Americans

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