New book aims to increase fluency among Indigenous language speakers

A new book is looking at helping people who speak Indigenous languages teach others to communicate fluently. Patricia Ningewance is the author of Reclaiming Our Territory, Word by Word.

She launched her book at Merchant’s Corner in Winnipeg, the site of a notorious old hotel which itself has been culturally reclaimed by the local Indigenous community. The hotel had been known for its drug and alcohol abuse before a massive revitalization project in April 2018 changed the area.

Ningewance, who hails from Lac Seul First Nation in Ontario, hopes the book can help revitalize some languages and get more people involved in Indigenous culture.

“We’re losing language speakers and I’m hoping that this will be one method that we can get groups of people learning together, learning as a family, learning as a group of friends, to learn their own language because you can’t learn it in university anymore, the old method.”

This is Ningewance’s third language book she has released. She includes step-by-step guidelines and activities from her 40 years experience in teaching Ojibway.

No teaching experience is required to use the book. It is set up to encourage fluent Indigenous speakers but can be used to teach any Indigenous language, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, orally without knowledge of grammar or spelling.

As a language teacher, Ningewance found at the end of the course there were not many students who could speak the language.

“This is a new method, I’ve been going towards this method more in the last few years. I want fluency amongst my students so I do a lot of the activities that I’m teaching here, I do a lot of those techniques.”

The book sells for $20 and can be bought online here.

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