Language nest

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Language nests, an immersion-based approach to language revitalization, originated in New Zealand in 1982 as a part of the Māori language revival.[1] The term "language nest" is a translation of the Māori phrase kōhanga reo.

In a language nest, older speakers of the language take part in early-childhood education with a view to improving intergenerational language transference.

In New Zealand[edit]

The first kōhanga reo was founded in Wainuiomata in 1982, and was followed by the establishment of primary schools and secondary schools (Kura Kaupapa Māori) where Māori is the primary language of instruction.

According to Al Jazeera, the percentage of Maori people speaking the language has increased by a few percentage points from the early 1980s to 2014.[2] Linguist Christopher Moseley says that this statistic is "quite encouraging" because "compared to how quickly a language can disappear, in just one generation in extreme cases, the figures are good."[3]

In the United States[edit]

In Hawaii, the Hawaiian-language equivalent, the Pūnana Leo, has been running for 24 years[4] and has also been successful in producing first-language speakers of Hawaiian.[5]

In Minnesota, the Enweyang Ojibwe Language Nest, started in 2009. In collaboration with UMD's College of Education and Human Services Professionals and Eni-gikendaasoyang, the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Language Revitalization, the program targets 4-5 year olds in a half day session in the Duluth area.[6]

In North Dakota, Lakȟól’yapi Wahóȟpi, the Lakota Language Immersion Nest, opened on September 12, 2012. Full day schooling aimed at 3-year olds, with parents also receiving training to encourage at home efforts is key to this program. [7]

In Australia[edit]

In August 2009, the Australian government pledged to pilot language nests as part of its National Indigenous Languages Policy.[8] The first of five Aboriginal language and culture nests in New South Wales launched in 2013, although these are government service delivery centres and not immersion pre-schools.[9][10] The Miriwoong Language Nest has been running in Kununurra since early 2014[11] with over 300 children attending per week.[12]

In Canada[edit]

A study in 2004 reported on two language nests in British Columbia: a Cseyseten ("language nest") at Adam’s Lake in the Secwepemc language, and a Clao7alcw ("Raven’s nest") at Lil’wat Nation in the Lil’wat language written about by Onowa McIvor for her Master's thesis.[13]

The First Peoples' Cultural Council in Canada provides grants to First Nations communities in British Columbia as part of the Pre-School Language Nest Program.[14]

In the Northwest Territories, there are language nests for each of the official Aboriginal languages, with more than 20 language nests in total.[15]

In Estonia[edit]

There is only one language nest for Võro working three days a week in Haanja and several initiatives, so called "language nest days" (keelepesäpäiv) that are working one day in week in 18 different kindergartens of Võro area. Võro language nest initiatives are organised by Võro Institute.

In Finland[edit]

There are language nests for Inari Sámi, Skolt Sami, and the Karelian languages in Finland.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Zealand: The Maori". Al Jazeera. July 17, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  2. ^ "New Zealand: The Maori". Al Jazeera. July 17, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "New Zealand: The Maori". Al Jazeera. July 17, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  4. ^ "'Aha Pūnana Leo". Cultural Survival. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  5. ^ "A Timeline of Revitalization". Aha Punana Leo. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Enweyang Ojibwe Language Nest". University of Minnesota Duluth. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  7. ^ "Lakota Language Immersion Nest". Last Real Indians. 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  8. ^ "Indigenous Languages Policy".
  9. ^ "Language Nests: a way to revive Indigenous languages at risk". The Conversation. November 12, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  10. ^ "Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests - Aboriginal Affairs". Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  11. ^ "They're just so proud to see their grandchildren learning their language". ABC Kimberley. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  12. ^ "Language Nest". Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  13. ^ McIvor, Onowa. "Language Nest programs in BC (MA Thesis)" (PDF). Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "Pre-School Language Nest Program". First People's Cultural Council. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "Language Nests". Northwest Territories: Education, Culture, and Employment. Government of the Northwest Territories. Retrieved March 28, 2015.

External links[edit]