1. How do students learn English?
We have an English instructor who works with grades 4 and higher.
Students attend English Language Arts daily at Waadokodaading starting at Grade 4. In order to preserve the immersion environment Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3 students are totally immersed in the Ojibwe language. Understanding that English Language development should be guided at home is part of the commitment that families make when enrolling their children in a language immersion school.
2. What about math and other subjects?
All core subjects and specials, including Ojibwe Language Arts are taught through the medium of Ojibwemowin. Starting at Grade 4 students are offered English language instruction in both ELA and Science on alternating years.
3. Why is Ojibwe an endangered language?
Courtesy of the Ojibwe Peopl’es Dictionary: “Ojibwe is an endangered language. Indigenous languages throughout the world are in decline, and have been since Europeans first colonized the Americas. Beginning in 1879, the United States established off-reservation federal boarding schools to re-educate Indian children and youth in the English language and American life-ways. Boarding schools, urban life, popular culture, and even participation in public school education all demanded that we speak English. The Ojibwe language has historically been repressed by policymakers and educators in the US and Canada, though there are many, complex reasons why fewer people today speak Ojibwe.”
4. Will my child be prepared to go to college if they learn in an Ojibwe language medium classroom?
A survey of Canadian university students (Canadian Parents for French, 2005) found that the majority of immersion graduates surveyed reported no difficulty in adjusting to university courses offered in English. In fact, immersion graduates have more options than other students because in Canada they may choose to take some or all post-secondary courses in their second language. The majority of survey respondents reported no difficulty in making the transition from high school to university courses in French.
5. When will my children learn about Ojibwe culture?
The goal of the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School is to not only immerse our students in their language, but also their culture. Staff is guided by elders and teach their students through Anishinaabe seasonal activities, aadizookaanan and beliefs.
6. How can I help?
Learn Ojibwemowin! Putting your student in a language immersion school is a great step forward for their education and for the preservation of the language being used but more can be done! Using the target language with your student will not only increase their access to the language but will also encourage and reinforce the work they do toward learning the language as important.
The following website has a few quick, easy, and important suggestions for immersion parents:
7. How can I learn Ojibwe?
Ojibwe Language classes are offered at many colleges and universities in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. Communities also often hold public classes or “language tables” for adult learners.
Learning a new language is a time consuming activity. Find partners in your endeavor and people who can teach you. Center aspects of your life around these partners and your language learning. Spend less time thinking and talking about learning and start doing.
See the links tab under Ojibwemowin Resources on our website to find great resources for all learners.
“We are at a make or break time for the future of the Ojibwe Language.” -Anton Treuer.
There are currently only about 1,000 first speakers left in the United States. First speakers are those who acquired a language from birth as their first language. Many of these speakers are located in small pockets throughout the upper Great Lakes region. Our home, Odaawaa Zaagaa’iganiing (The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation) in Wisconsin had less than 10 first speakers in 1999 when the last survey was conducted. Currently most of the first speakers in the country are over the age of 70, which means that the mission of keeping the language alive really is a race against time. It is a race that we cannot afford to lose.