participate in an activity involving plants.
To have a language is to have a culture. And sadly, to lose
that language is to lose the culture. For this precise reason, Daycare
Administrator Mary Thundercloud-Eary and her staff at the Hoocak
Ee Cooni learning center in Wisconsin Dells fight to preserve the
Ho-Chunk language within the tribe. They realize the importance
of language within a culture, and its vast significance in retaining
that culture. Based on this realization, they devote every second
of the day to teaching Ho-Chunk youth their native language.
Were trying to create language nests for families
as a way to revitalize and save the language, ThundercloudEary
explains. Were really working to have more families
speak the language so its not something we lose.
language apprentice teaches Ho-Chunk to the kids.
The daycare welcomes enrolled Ho-Chunk children who are 4 months
to 4 years old. But the younger, the better. As they say, the early
bird gets the worm. Kids tend to soak up everything. With that being
the case, the learning center targets infants and young children.
What were trying to do is create these baby Ho-Chunk
speakers, ThundercloudEary admits. Its age-appropriate
and follows all the state standards.
Research into undeveloped brains have taught us a few things.
For one, a childs first language grows the strongest. For
another, young minds are very suggestible. Children learn quickly,
and listen to everything we say. So when it comes to learning a
language, immersion proves to be the best teaching method.
children embrace the art of role-playing.
Were really trying to speak only Ho-Chunk to the
babies, Thundercloud-Eary states. Once they come in,
the babies are immersed in Ho-Chunk as soon as they enter. Its
all in Ho-Chunk. The goal is to be a true immersion program.
By far, language immersion constitutes the largest part of the
agenda at the learning center. However, many fun and engaging activities
present themselves for the children. For instance, reading comprises
a substantial portion of the day. Some books are written in English,
and then translated into HoChunk. Others have already been translated
for the kids.
You teach the language like you would any other language,
ThundercloudEary informs. So we read stories.
Everything the staff does at the daycare reinforces language
learning. The apprentices speak in Ho-Chunk. Books are read in Ho-Chunk.
And soon, the kids will think in Ho-Chunk. The entire focus lies
on ingraining the Ho-Chunk language into the minds of children.
Thats the goal of the program to speak only
in Ho-Chunk all day long to the kids, Thundercloud-Eary reveals.
The goal has always been to save the language. Hopefully,
well develop a whole school system where the children only
children practice arts and crafts at the daycare.
learning center provides a safe and clean environment for