Indigenous Language Revitalization and Learning Theory

Dr. Jed Meltzer, Senior Scientist

Mentor: Dr. Jed Meltzer

Senior Scientist


Project Description

This project examines the use of spaced repetition techniques to aid language learners involved in revitalization of Ojibwe, an Indigenous language of Ontario. It is a collaboration with the Kingston Indigenous Language Nest. My lab also studies language processing in adults, with applications to diagnosis and rehabilitation of disorders such as stroke and dementia, second language learning, and the relationship of language to other cognitive and motor processes. Recently we have studied the use of advanced software-based techniques for efficiently studying words, both for people with acquired brain damage relearning their first language, and for adults studying a second language. We have developed a course for Ojibwe using these techniques as well, which is now being piloted with learners in Kingston. I am looking to partner with an undergraduate involved in language revitalization who has prior experience with the Ojibwe language (any dialect). The project will involve writing lesson material (according to a template that we will provide), light programming and testing of software (prior experience helpful but not necessary), and engaging with community members to verify the material and pilot its use in instructional settings. Depending on the student’s language ability, there may be an opportunity for them to further expand our lessons, generate additional dialogs, and even write new lessons covering more advanced aspects of vocabulary and grammar. However, there is sufficient work that we need help with even if you are a beginner with Ojibwe.

Mentorship Statement

As a language-learning enthusiast, I have taken a deep dive into learning Ojibwe and Mohawk in the past few years, and have developed relationships with communities, teachers, and activists working on teaching and revitalizing these languages. I have a vision to create specific resources that will help in this mission, grounded in the latest science of adult language acquisition. To make it a reality, I need to work with emerging scholars from the relevant communities. SROP seems like a perfect opportunity to push this project forward while developing the career of a future leader the field of language revitalization. The student will also have the opportunity to learn about the other research we do in our lab, and see connections between language learning and optimizing adult brain health.

Project ID 813