Indigenous Language Immersion Education: Implications for School Success, Language Revitalization, and Reconciliation
Indigenous education in Canada today is at a crossroads. Indigenous learners on average are less likely to complete high school than their peers. Frequently, Indigenous children still have limited access in the classroom to the intellectual and cultural traditions and languages of their ancestors and communities. This leads to low self-esteem and cultural pride; it also exacerbates the challenge of revitalizing endangered Indigenous languages. However, many First Nations communities are working to change that. One increasingly common approach to the challenges of school success and language and culture revitalization is Indigenous language immersion education. In this presentation, I will begin with an overview of Indigenous educational and linguistic history, rights, and goals. I will then describe the results of a longitudinal study with the MMAK Anishinaabemowin immersion school on Manitoulin Island. This research has found that Indigenous language immersion has a positive impact on academic development, Indigenous language acquisition, self-esteem, and cultural pride. These results are similar to research in other communities with immersion education, which enables the identification of best practices for both First Nations and provincial schools. I will end with a discussion of policy implications and recommendations for supporting language- and culture-based education for the Ministry of Education, provincial school boards, and individual schools and teachers.
Dr. Lindsay Morcom (Algonquin Métis, Bear Clan) is an interdisciplinary researcher with experience in education, Aboriginal languages, language revitalization, and linguistics. She earned her Master’s degree in Linguistics at First Nations University through the University of Regina in 2006. She then completed her doctorate in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in 2010. She now works as an assistant professor and coordinator of the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her research focus is on language revitalization, decolonizing and Indigenizing education, and reconciliatory education.