Training Communities, Training Graduate Students: The 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop

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ISSN: 1934-5275

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Fitzgerald, Colleen M., Linn, Mary S.
Breath of Life, Oklahoma, Language Revitalization, Native American Languages
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While grassroots organizations like the American Indian Language Development Institute have long shown the importance of training to indigenous language communities, an increasing emphasis on training in language documentation and revitalization is emerging in new funding initiatives, training institutes and consortia world-wide. In this current atmosphere the 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop presents a case study in training in which the goals of training indigenous community members and graduate students can take place simultaneously. With the rising prominence of training models in language documentation and revitalization, and the practical dimension faced by limitations on resources like personnel and funding, the importance of satisfying multiple goals in a single training venue cannot be underestimated. Additionally, this project demonstrates how learning can take place outside of the typical, credit-bearing university class, offering flexibility to indigenous community members and filling a gap in training for graduate students that formal coursework does not provide. Four factors were essential: team selection process; mentoring; final projects by community member participants; and reflection by graduate student mentors. We outline in detail the elements of these four factors, as well as provide evidence of continued engagement in language work by participants through post-workshop activities.

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Colleen Fitzgerald

Colleen M. Fitzgerald is an American linguist who specializes in phonology, as well as language documentation and revitalization, especially with Native American languages She is a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and TESOL

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