My AILDI Experience Amanda LeClair-Diaz, University of Arizona

Han! Nianayhosem Amanda LeClair-Diaz. Ne Sosonih deas ne Saireka. Hi! My name is Amanda LeClair-Diaz. I am Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho. I am originally from Ft. Washakie, WY, which is located on the Wind River Reservation in west-central Wyoming. Currently, I am a fourth-year doctoral student in the Language, Reading, and Culture PhD Program in the Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies Department at the University of Arizona. My major is Indigenous Education, and my minor is in Teaching & Teacher Education.

This past summer was my second time participating in the AILDI summer course. In Spring 2015, my adviser initially brought up that I should enroll in one of the AILDI courses that was offered for that summer. I told my adviser I didn't feel like it would be a good fit because I didn't know my language. I had grown up hearing it in my community during certain times of the year, but I was not fluent by any means. She assured me I didn't have to be fluent in my language, but I was still apprehensive. My mother's parents had attended boarding schools, and the language had "gone asleep" on my father's side of the family. At the time, I felt disheartened that I would ever be able to fully gain my tribal language. Despite my insecurity, a part of me was curious what information AILDI had to offer, so I agreed to sign up for a linguistics course taught by Dr. Stacey Oberly (Southern Ute). On my first day in the class, not only was I nervous about not knowing my language, I also felt insecure because I didn't have any prior experience with linguistics! However, the support and teaching style of Dr. Oberly, and the support from the AILDI staff helped me feel more confident about my skills. During this Summer 2015 course, I learned about morphology, ways to teach language with immersion methods, and how to structure sentences in my tribal language. Our final project for the class was for students to create a 20-minute lesson and teach it completely in our language. AILDI provided specific times during the day we were to focus on developing our final projects, and Dr. Oberly (as well as the other AILDI instructors for that summer) also worked in example immersion lessons to her lesson plans. On the day of our final, we were provided time for a practice round of our immersion lessons before our final run. For me, the practice round allowed me to get my nerves out before my final presentation. My 20-minute lesson consisted of an immersion lesson of a cultural activity, which was "How to make gotsap (berry gravy)." At the end of my 20 minutes, I was proud of myself. I had started the program feeling insecure and not confident about speaking my language and ended the program with speaking my language for a whole 20 minutes and creating sentences in Shoshone.

This past summer, I returned to AILDI and took the courses taught by Dr. Sheilah Nicholas (Hopi) and Dr. Stacey Oberly. From 8 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday, my peers and I met in one classroom at the University of Arizona to learn about linguistics (such as the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA Chart), immersion teaching methods (such as Total Physical Response or TEP), and cultural education.

Upper left-hand corner: Max Mule and Odelia Francisco working on IPA Chart; Bottom left-hand corner: Elizabeth Rios working on IPA Chart; Right-Hand Side: Celia Gonzales and MariaLouisa Vega working on IPA Chart
Upper left-hand corner: Sheninkwa Cly and Natasha Naha working on IPA Chart; Bottom left-hand corner: Paulita Lomaomvaya, Elnora Monongye, and Wyman Navenma working on IPA Chart; Upper right-hand corner: A snapshot of class; Bottom right-hand corner: Milson Jose and Victor Curran working on IPA Chart

Summer 2017 AILDI Courses were special and unique because all of the students developed close friendships because we were together for 8 hours five days a week. We formed study groups to help each other with homework and brainstormed ideas of immersion lessons.

Felicite, Esmeralda Ramirez, and Odelia Francisco

Summer 2017 AILDI was also unique because we had two professors teaching courses. Dr. Oberly's course focused on general ideas regarding linguistics and how to apply a tribal viewpoint to these ideas and immersion teaching methods, which were applicable to our final immersion lessons. In Dr. Nicholas's course, we discussed language policies and what ways these stances affect our languages and communities. We also participated in Group Immersion Lessons, where one person was the language mentor and the other group members were language learners.

Dr. Oberly teaching students teaching an immersion lesson using a game.
Dr. Nicholas has students present visual representations of language use (these tables consisted both tribal and English) to the class.

Similar to past summers, our final project was a 20-minute immersion lesson. However, this summer, students had to complete a 20-minute immersion lesson individually (or in small groups) and a large group 20-minute immersion lesson. The individual/small group immersion lessons allowed students to teach a culturally relevant topic or activity in their tribal language for 20-minutes. For the large group 20-minute immersion lesson, one group member was a lead teacher and the other members of the group were language learners. The purpose of the large group immersion lesson was to experience what it was like to be a lead teacher planning a lesson for language learners and appealing to students' various strengths.

Max Mule and Odelia Francisco (Tohono O'odham) teaching their immersion lesson
Esmeralda Ramirez and MariaLouisa Vega teaching their immersion lesson.
Hannah Evanyish (Navajo) and Natasha Naha (Navajo) teaching their immersion lesson
Victor Curran (Quechan) teaching his immersion lesson to students.
My immersion lesson
Diane Montoya (Fort Mojave) and April Garcia (Fort Mojave) teaching their language immersion lesson.
Wyman Navenma (Hopi) and Paulita Lomaomvaya (Hopi) teaching their language immersion lesson.
Felicite Joe (Navajo) and Sydney Holiday's immersion lesson.
Sheninkwa Cly (Navajo) and Kristin Stewart (Navajo teaching their immersion lesson.
Michael Garcia (Pueblo of Santa Ana) and Charlene Pino (Pueblo of Santa Ana) teaching their immersion lesson.
Betty DeCampo (Fort Mojave) and Candace Montijo (Fort Mojave) teaching their immersion lesson to the class.
Milson Jose (Quechan) teaching his immersion lesson to the class.
Elizabeth Rios (Cahuilla Band of Indians) teaching her immersion lesson to the class.
Donovan Pete (Navajo) teaching his immersion lesson to the class.
O'odham Language Large Group Immersion
Manchu Language Large Group Immersion
Kristy Pavatea (Hopi) teaching during the Keres Language Group Immersion
Paulita's Hopi Language Large Group Immersion

As you can see, we all had a productive June that was filled with learning about ourselves and learning from one another. My second summer participating in AILDI taught me reconnecting with my language is a beautiful, lifelong journey that is made even better when you make connections with other people who are traveling a similar path as you. Hooweehoo, thank you, for stopping by. I hope you visit again soon and keep a look out for AILDI :)

AILDI 2017 Co-hort

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