The Leliyal Akkabwung Carolinian and Chamorro CNMI PSS Language Immersion program is reaching out to the community in a survey that asks parents in the CNMI about their opinion on the use of the language immersion program in the classroom.
Program adviser Valrick Welch said they submitted a competitive proposal to the Administration of Native Americans to fund a five-year language immersion program at Kagman Elementary School last year, but it wasn’t funded.
“A main weakness pointed out by the reviewers is they didn’t see immersion language as a high priority in our community. The surveys should help, and I can use them to influence our Legislature to pass a resolution in support of the heritage languages,” said Welch in an email to Saipan Tribune.
The language immersion program is a teaching method that incorporates the use of Chamorro and Carolinian languages within lessons in classrooms. This means that teachers will communicate their teachings using their heritage languages across all the taught subjects except for English. The main goal is to teach students how to speak their heritage language with their elders.
According to Welch, he wrote the grant for the program that was approved three years ago, and, within all three years, was implemented at Kagman Elementary School, which is the only school on the island that provides this program for their kindergarten classes.
Welch wants to expand the program to students up to 5th grade. With more than 200 responses within the Kagman community, Welch used that to support his latest grant request. However, the ANA couldn’t see this as a big enough priority for the community.
This then led Welch to create a survey directed to all parents in the CNMI. According to Welch, if the project expansion is approved, funding would cover the salary of teachers, the salary for the project manager, and a coach who would oversee the teachers during class and give guidance.
“The goal for the Administration of Native Americans is to provide programs for the community to thrive. The way to do that is getting children and grandparents talking, using their heritage language,” Welch said. (Neil Fama)