Deg xiqi xinatr’iditlghusr Conversational Deg Xinag
 A\ixi antr’ixixidili’anh. We learn with each other.

(Excerpt from Plan for 10/16/01 class)

Student goals for the semester:

Sam’s measurable goal for this semester is to be able to use our weekly greetings in conversation.  We have 10 questions requiring answers so Sam has 20 sentences he’s preparing to use with ease.  If, by the end of the semester he’s comfortable using 15 sentences in a conversational setting, he will have reached 75% of his goal.  He won’t get a C or D grade for 75%.  He will be able to use 15 sentences that he couldn’t use before.  He’ll feel great about this accomplishment. 

I need measurable goals from each student, please.  I believe this will help students by making each of you focus on something to really learn.  You’ll know that you have learned what YOU wanted to learn.  You’ll be proud.  This is a way to take charge of your own learning.

Your measurable goals help me plan the class to meet student needs.  For instance, knowing that Sam is focusing on the greetings, I’ll make sure that we go through them each week.

Your measurable goals help our class continue.  I do considerable public relations work to make sure that we can continue to meet.  Our class is expensive because of the many sites hooked into our audioconferences and because we pay our core group of elders for each class.  I have to convince administrators that we are worth this extra cost to UAF. An ANLC professor, who didn’t know about our class, said to me last spring, “I don’t think a conversation class over the telephone is a good idea.  It wouldn’t be effective.”  I was happy to be able to tell him that we have been meeting for 6 years and that students ARE LEARNING.  I could refer him to the 2 published articles about our class.  The best way to show outsiders that we are learning is to say, “This student learned this, that student learned that…”  That’s where your measurable goals come in.

Your measurable goals help ALL people who are working on learning their ancestral languages.  As Dr. Richard Littlebear says, “This is the first time we have lost our languages.”  So we all have to figure out something NEW. No one knows what will work to regain language use in communities where it is fading. We can support everyone else’s effort in this work by sharing what we are doing and how we are doing it.  For this reason Beth, Donna and I plan to give a presentation about our class to the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas in San Francisco in January.  There we can share your measurable goals showing what works and how you have taken charge of your own learning.