These lessons were created during work with Elder and fluent speaker, Helen Dick, who is from Lime Village. Alaska. She and her grand-daughter, Andrea Ivanoff also worked on this project, which Andrea is an excellent transcriber and speaker in the Dena'ina Language. This project was fun to do in Dena'ina and we did a lot of comparisons with the words with Ahtna. This is a working document, so there could be corrections and adjustments.
Connecting Traditional Activities with Native Language Through Task-Based Language Teaching
Beading has always been the activity I wanted to draw on to teach Ahtna. I began to work on the Dena'ina language with the same lesson as the Ahtna Language lesson.
Making items with your hands helps the mind to settle and be calm. Even when the outcome is uncertain, there is an end result. This project results in a necklace consisting of a single row of small, big and long beads on a string. Keeping the initial necklace relative simple allows students to feel successful, because they can complete their item in a short amount of time. The language learning will slow the process down, as students pick up beads by using Dena'ina to count and say out loud what they are picking up. There is a pre-task of learning the names of items that will be used in the necklace, such as thread, needle, leather strap, knot and beads. Short language lessons are taught using discussions, games and problem solving before the construction of the necklace to help students to understand what is being asked of them. The instruction is in the Dena'ina language and students themselves must also use language during this process.