Early childhood Native language immersion develops minds, revitalizes cultures
“Aaniin, ezhi-ayaayan?” (Hello, how are you?)
Children and teachers sing these words to a three-year-old child in the Ojibwe classroom of the Wicoie Nandagikendan language immersion program. The child stands up from his chair and places a sticker under one of several Ojibwe words for happy, sad, and angry, among other choices.
After all the children and adults take turns placing their stickers, a teacher leads the children through counting, “bezhig, niizh, niswi,” colors, “miskwa, ozaawaa, ozhaawashkwaa,” and animals, “makwa, waawaashkeshiinh, ajidamoo,” all while pointing to corresponding pictures with a colorful wand to help everyone listen and speak in Ojibwe.