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Subtractive bilingual ed. & semilingualism(?) in Tununak, Alaska

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  • Donald Z. Osborn
    The following excerpt from an article in National Geographic News ( At Remote Eskimo School, Yearning for the Lower 48, by Stefan Lovgren, February 24, 2005;
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 16 9:29 PM
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      The following excerpt from an article in National Geographic News ("At Remote
      Eskimo School, Yearning for the Lower 48," by Stefan Lovgren, February 24,
      2005; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0224_050224_tununak.html
      ) may be of interest. (The full article was also seen on ILAT and reposted to
      MINEL.) DZO


      ...

      "Village English"

      A future of subsistence hunting hardly appeals to the students at Paul T. Albert
      Memorial. But getting out of the village - and finding a job - is an uphill
      climb. In the last ten years the school has only graduated one male student.
      Most students who try for college do not succeed.

      Language is one of the main obstacles.

      Students begin their studies in the Yupik language then switch to English in
      third grade. Most young people in the village become fluent in neither Yupik
      nor English, putting them at a big disadvantage when it comes to taking
      statewide tests.

      "The kids speak a sort of 'village English,'" Kanrilak said. "They'll say things
      like, 'We'll check you.' That means they will come to see you."

      Kanrilak speaks to his eight children in both English and Yupik. Although his
      children can understand Yup'ik, they respond in English. Kanrilak says his
      generation was the last to be immersed in the Yupik language.

      "We have been told that our language is inferior and we should speak English,"
      he said. "Today we have to compete with television. A minority of people in the
      village speak to their children in their native language."

      Experts say that language loss is perhaps the strongest indicator that a culture
      is eroding. According to Wade Davis, a National Geographic
      explorer-in-residence and an expert on struggling cultures, there were 6,000
      languages spoken around the world 50 years ago. Today, fewer than half of them
      are being taught to schoolchildren.

      "Unless something changes, [these cultures] are already dead," Davis said.
      "Language is not just vocabulary and grammar. It's the flash of the human
      spirit, a vehicle through which the soul of a culture comes to the material
      world, and every language is like an old-growth forest of the mind."

      ...




      ----- End forwarded message -----
    • Donald Z. Osborn
      The following excerpt from an article in the Kampala daily New Vision ( Make Luganda, Luo And Lugbara Uganda s National Languages, by Livingstone Walusimbi,
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 16 10:22 PM
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        The following excerpt from an article in the Kampala daily New Vision ("Make
        Luganda, Luo And Lugbara Uganda's National Languages," by Livingstone
        Walusimbi, March 7, 2005; http://allafrica.com/stories/200503071400.html ;
        http://www.newvision.co.ug/ ) may be of interest. Poor student performance is
        apparently related to monolingual non-first language (or if I understand
        correctly, in some cases *bilingual* non-first language) instruction. The
        author of the article criticizes the mandate to educate in English (official
        language spoken by many but not as a first language [L1]) and Swahili
        (apparently not the L1 of many, but important in neighboring Kenya and
        Tanzania), but not in the indigenous languages of Uganda. (Full article was
        reposted to MINEL and AfricanLanguages.) DZO


        ...

        The [Ugandan] Curriculum Review Commission found out that the overall
        performance levels of primary schools especially UPE pupils was very poor.
        Children did not acquire adequate literacy and numeracy skills in either native
        languages or in English. Failure to achieve early literacy and numeracy was the
        major cause of poor performance. The serious fall in primary education
        standards has been due to very poor administration of the Central Government.
        There was no school supervision at all.

        ...


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