First Tlingit Words of the Day

Tlingit alphabet
I only sit in on Teacher Z's class for one period each day—an Alaska studies class, generally a freshman requirement at Ketchikan High School. Usually I relax and observe during this class, since I think it's good to observe differences in teaching styles and lessons without always participating myself. Nevertheless, I have stepped in to talk to this class on a few occasions so far—for about five to ten minutes at a time. Every few days for the last few weeks, I've given the class a new "Tlingit word of the day," usually somewhat related to the topic being addressed by Teacher Z.

Here are my "Tlingit words of the day" so far:

1 — sítʼ (glacier)
2 — Sítʼ Eetí G̱eeyí (Glacier Bay, literally “the bay in place of the glacier”)
3 — Lingít Aaní (Tlingit Country/Southeast Alaska, literally "land of the Tlingit")
4 — Kichx̱áan (Ketchikan)
5 — yoo aan ka.á (earthquake, literally “up and down/land/vertical plane”)
6 & 7 — tsaa (seal) and taan (sea lion)
sítʼ
I introduced words 6 and 7 today, doing two at once since they're both pretty simple. Each time I introduce a word, I typically explain some of the sounds in it that are unknown English speakers, like tʼ, í, x̱, . (the glottal stop), or ts. I then reference any connections with past words, like Sítʼ Eetí G̱eeyí with sítʼ and yoo aan ka.á with Lingít Aaní (aan meaning "land"). To take up a few more minutes, I've also brought up this website to play letter sounds, and talked about related topics like where we get the name "Tongass." (It's from an alternate name for the Taantʼa Ḵwáan, the people who inhabited the area of Kichx̱áan, at least for the last few centuries.)

For the most part, the students seem to enjoy my time spent doing words of the day. At least a few students seem genuinely appreciate the content itself, while I think the others mostly like taking a break from everything else they do each day. Teacher Z has asked the students to keep a list of the words. I've seen that some do, and others probably don't. There is no grade related to the activity at all, so I know there'd be greater incentive to keep a list and memorize it if there was. On the other hand, perhaps there's something nice about the students getting to do something that they know is just for the sake of learning—no grades attached.

These sorts of questions—to grade or not to grade, and so on—are the ones I'm just beginning to deal with as a student teacher. In the meantime, though, I'll just enjoy the journey and keep sharing assorted Tlingit vocabulary with two dozen freshmen at Kayhi.

[Note: Also take a look at the Tlingit words of the day I've shared on Twitter, Facebook, and my other blog.]

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