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K’wáa gyáaḵ’id G̱áagaay hl kı́nsälang: Emerging X̱aad Kı́l (Haida language) use in a preschool setting

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The language nest immersion concept brings together young children, fluent speakers, and helpful parents with the goal of creating new speakers of an indigenous language. Students are immersed in a culturally responsive and linguistically rich environment where daily activities are carried out in the target indigenous language. This concept has been championed by the Maoris and the Hawaiians. There is much written on how language nests are formed and developed but nearly all of the studies do not include any information on the language nest children’s emergent production of the indigenous language. In this study, I present data that shows the children’s emerging receptive and productive language skills at X̱ántsii Náay, a new X̱aad kíl (Haida language) nest in Hydaburg, Alaska. What is especially unique about this study is that there are no resident first language speakers of X̱aad kíl remaining in Hydaburg, which makes the language nest the leading vehicle for bringing the language back from the brink of extinction. A primary objective of this study is to learn how 3-5-year-old children in an immersion setting begin to acquire an Indigenous language. In addition to my observations, the participants’ parents also reflect on the children’s use of Xaad kíl in their home. I hope that this study can influence more Indigenous communities to track their children’s emerging brilliance while they emulate our ancestors.
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