The Kalispel Language Survival School started in 2016 with only four (4) teachers and 15 students and has since then doubled and is continuing expansion. Currently, they serve grades Kindergarten to 5th grade in an immersion setting for 4½ hours per school day. The Kalispel Language Program has partnered with the local school district as an alternative learning education program. The immersion school is strategically built across the street from the public school so students can spend time in both of the schools.

Check out this interview from Lead Teacher, Paul Renaud, also known as łlmotó, in regard to his own language learning experience:

Retention Factors for Yurok Teacher Candidates
Contribution by Victoria Carlson, Yurok Tribe Language Program Director; Jim Myers, Gary Bess Associates Director of Evaluation & Research; and Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director.

The Yurok Tribe of California is currently working on a language project through the Administration for Native Americans. A large part of the project is language teacher development. By the end of the project period, Yurok aims to have 10 Teacher Candidates (TC) who are certified as advanced speakers of the Yurok Language. In addition, another goal of the program is to have six (6) of those teacher candidates obtain a bachelor’s degree along with a Standard California Teaching Credential.

The TCs are given stipends to participate in the project, but many of them also have full-time jobs and/or families. This can be challenging in regard to TC retention, as the risk for burnout is very real. TCs are supported and monitored by Language Specialists, who conduct monthly check-ins via email, phone, or face-to-face meetings. These check-ins provide support, encouragement, troubleshooting, and technical assistance to ensure the success of each TC. Through the monthly check-ins, the Language Specialists identified five factors that contribute to TC retention.

Program Flexibility: When TCs were unable to meet deadlines and/or were unable to fulfill the requirements of the program, the program offered flexibility.

Assistance Navigating Systems: By participating in this program, TCs are faced with a multitude of requirements and deadlines from three (3) systems: a) their university; b) their credentialing program; and c) the Language grant. The Language Specialist assists the candidate in fulfilling all requirements within these systems.

Emotional Support/Encouragement: In addition to assisting TCs as they navigate through the program requirements, the Language Specialist also offers encouragement in the form of praise and reassurance.

General and Technical Assistance: The Language Specialist is willing to assist TCs with a wide range of requests. In many cases, the Language Specialist helps the TCs before being asked.

Financial Incentive: Stipends provide important incentives for TCs to continue participation in the program.

These five factors are important to retain TCs in Yurok’s language teacher development aspect of their Administration for Native Americans grant as well as build capacity for the Yurok Language Program. They also reduce turnover and attrition as well as ensure TC engagement in language revitalization work.