FirstVoices is a web-based project to support Aboriginal peoples' teaching and archiving of language and culture. It is operated by the First Peoples' Heritage, Language and Culture Council in British Columbia.
The FirstVoices.com website hosts an online language archive, launched in 2003, containing thousands of text entries in many Aboriginal writing systems, as well as sound files, pictures, videos and games. Some archives are publicly accessible, but others are password-protected at the request of the individual language community. FirstVoices is home to 41 language and dialect archives from B.C., as well as 17 from the rest of Canada and 5 from California.
FirstVoices provides the following tools so that each archive can be customized to the languages it serves:
- An alphabet provides the written character set for a language, with sample sound files for each character.
- A dictionary provides a word list, with translations, definitions, sounds, images and video.
- A phrase book contains everyday conversational language with related text, sound, image and video files to support language learning.
FirstVoices also hosts FirstVoices Kids, a site geared towards young First Nations language learners. FirstVoices Kids has large colourful pictures, simple language games, and recordings of Elders speaking their language arranged to be usable by pre-readers and their family.
In 2009, FirstVoices launched the FirstVoices Language Tutor, an interactive, online teaching application. The FirstVoices Language Tutor delivers graduated language exercises in vocabulary development, reading comprehension, listening and speaking. Language Tutor lessons are customizable and can be targeted to specific age groups or curriculum. Any word or phrase in an existing FirstVoices language archive can be used in a Language Tutor lesson, or new words and phrases can be added. The Language Tutor also offers a student tracking system that allows teachers to follow the progress of an entire classroom of students.
In 2012, First Voices released a chat texting app for mobile phones for indigenous languages.
- "Online archive adds life to rapidly dying aboriginal languages". The Vancouver Sun. 2008-09-08.
- "Broadband Innovations: Fiber Optics Reach the Tipi". PCWorld. 2008-07-23.
- "Funding helps preserve Aboriginal languages". British Columbia Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services. 2006-12-01.
- "FirstVoices - Protecting the past with the future". Yukon Government. 2005-11-04.
Notes and references
- "What is FirstVoices". FirstVoices.com.
- , The FirstVoices Language Tutor.
- Renee Lewis (2012-08-02). "Indigenous tap new app to save old languages". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2012-08-21.