has long suggested the ideal time to teach a new language is to 4-year-old
students because young learners absorb so much.
With that in mind the Oneida Indian Nation language
program and Madison-Oneida BOCES (MOBOCES) are developing a curriculum
and best practices to ensure all children at the Oneida Indian Nation
Early Learning Center are learning the traditional language. With
one-year of collaboration already behind them the staff at the Verona
school is working on a plan to not only benefit the children, but
include current Oneida language learners, teachers and ELC staff
on how to bring Oneida to all.
Daycare and language staff are meeting
(with MOBOCES) to develop the best method to share the language
with the children, explained Randy Phillips, Oneida Nation
education programs assistant manager. Randy added the curriculum
has shifted this spring to allow more daycare staff to reinforce
Children dont care if they make a
mistake, unlike adults who may feel unsure. They dont know
theyre learning a language. Theyre learning new words
and phrases just as they would English.
And that is something Edward Rinaldo, director
of staff and curriculum development at MOBOCES, said the staff is
building on, reviewing how best Oneida language can be taught,
how we can help Mary (Blau, Turtle Clan, and other teachers) create
more structures to grow the language, to really foster the language.
And the best way to do that is through teaching and focusing on
The early learners are the ones picking
(the language) up early, added Maria Papa, staff development
instructional specialist, at MOBOCES. They are becoming bilingual
whether or not they use it. They are hearing it, repeating it, and
using it throughout the day, which is beneficial for all.
This is a critical age for them to be able to retain it. Four-year-olds
are very inquisitive. Theyre basically sponges.
Already Colleen Wuest, director of early childhood
education, as well as Maria, have been busy observing staff and
Oneida Language students in action. The group plans to expand the
languages reach by adding phonetic spellings to visuals, and
encouraging more take home materials featuring the language.
Todays combined effort follows a decades-long
quest by the Oneida Nation to develop the native language which
has included 30-minute language classes, immersion classes for adults
and intensive classes for both teachers and learners.
The matching memory game featuring animals
and other nouns is great for anyone trying to learn the language,
Other learning tools include a grocery list,
greeting cards illustrated by student Chelsea Jocko (Wolf Clan)
and available at the Shako:wi Cultural Center, bookmarks, a Thanksgiving
Address booklet and the state-of-the-art Oneida Basic language app
available for free on iTunes.
With all these items available and as more of
this generation learns the better the chances Oneida language will