Why Is This So Hard? Ideologies of Endangerment, Passive Language Learning Approaches, and Ojibwe in the United States

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Abstract

This paper describes 3 language learning approaches common in many urban and rural Ojibwe communities, as well as the ideologies of endangerment that drive and sustain them. Drawing from collaborative language revitalization work with teachers, learners, and community leaders, we analyze some of the teaching and learning practices that lead to the common mismatch between language learner goals and expectations, on the one hand, and the outcomes of language learning, on the other. We outline how these 3 approaches to language learning relate to cultural identities and place-based notions of authenticity as well as to current findings in the field of second language acquisition. We then profile 2 speakers who have learned Ojibwe successfully as adults to illustrate how their success was possible largely because they were able to engage with the Ojibwe language in interactive ways that run counter to common language learning approaches. We suggest that for language revitalization efforts, and individual learners, to experience higher levels of success, greater attention needs to be paid to how ideologies of endangerment impact language learning approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-282
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Language, Identity and Education
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 8 2014

Keywords

  • Native American
  • authenticity
  • identity
  • ideology
  • language revitalization
  • reversing language shift

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