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Home Resource Walking in Both Worlds: Native American Students and Language Acquisition (Parts I & II)

Walking in Both Worlds: Native American Students and Language Acquisition (Parts I & II)

This two-part mini-documentary explores the context of language acquisition and development among Native American students in New Mexico. Interviews with researchers and educators highlight the value of supporting native language acquisition, development, and preservation at the same time as English language acquisition and development. Viewers learn about promising research-based strategies that educators, administrators, and community and tribal leaders can use to support Native American students’ language acquisition as well as the importance of culturally responsive instruction, connecting with tribal leaders, and family and community engagement.

  • Part I: Researchers explain that heritage language acquisition and development can help Native American students advance their English language skills. Featured speakers include Tiffany S. Lee, Ph.D., professor and chair of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM); Christine Sims, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the American Indian Language and Policy Research and Teacher Training Center at UNM; and Laurie Smith, English Language Arts instructor at Zuni High School and former member of the American Indian English Learners Task Force at the New Mexico Public Education Department.

  • Part II: Educators and administrators from Cuba and Jemez, New Mexico, describe the strategies they're using to preserve native languages and support English language development. In the Cuba Independent School District's Navajo language program, students learn to speak Diné. At the San Diego Riverside Charter School in the Pueblo of Jemez, students in kindergarten to grade 8 participate in a Towa language immersion program.

This video was produced by REL Southwest in partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department and other education partners in the state.

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