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WAYK Fall Training in Tanana

Learners-Speakers Gather for Fall Language Trainings

A series of Where Are Your Keys (WAYK) language trainings were held within the Doyon, Limited region this fall, drawing nearly 50 language learners-teachers. Trainings, which were facilitated by WAYK developer Evan Gardner and partner Susanna Ciotti, took place in Tanana October 27 – 31, in Tok November 3 – 6, and in Fairbanks November 14 – 16. The trainings were offered through individual partnerships between Doyon Foundation, Tanana Tribal Council and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Tok Center, with funding support for the Tanana training provided by Doyon, Limited.

The WAYK method, an accelerated language learning and teaching system, was created and is continually refined based on best practices in language learning. The training was packed with information, strategies and techniques for learning language, including the use of sign language to help “stay in” and use the target Native language being learned. One of the main strategies is called “hunting,” which is a specific way to set-up and document getting language and phrases from speakers without using English.

One of the highlights of the training was when learners began to realize there is a way to learn language that is engaging, fun, and with immediate results in understanding and retaining the phrases and terms used, shared Malinda Chase, Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program director.

“By the end of the training, participants leave with a sense of hope, knowing that language learning does not have to be drudgery but can be dynamic, social, creative and most of all, possible,” she said.

Reviewing the evaluation feedback received from participants following each of the trainings, a 100 percent of responded positively to the WAYK language-learning approach. Participants welcomed and appreciated the training, saying it was a “great opportunity” and “excellent.” Many of the speakers involved reported in their evaluations that the training was good and they liked the method as well.

Additionally, participants said they would like to be involved in future events, and readily identified how they were going to use what they learned in the training. In Tanana, the core group of learners planned to meet regularly for language nights, and support one another in their learning goals.

For the Tok class, participants came from the Northway, Tanacross and the Ahtna area, and each of these language communities were planning on various ways to integrate what they had learned into their existing language-learning activities.

In the Fairbanks training, participants developed individual learning plans for the next three to six months. These plans outlined their next steps, if they were daily, weekly or monthly activities, and what kind of support and resources would assist them. These learning plans were realistic and purposely focused on individual learner goals within a short period of time in order to cultivate a level of success.

Doyon Foundation, along with WAYK developers Evan Gardner and Susanna Ciotti, will offer a series of audioconferences for the training participants from December to March, and additional WAYK support is expected in spring 2015.

For more information on Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization efforts, please contact contact Doyon foundation at foundation@doyon.com.