Interest in Languages Continues to Grow

October, 2010

Have you ever passed by a classroom and heard children speaking Urdu or Igbo? The Saskatchewan Organization of Heritage Languages (SOHL) hopes the sounds of heritage language in schools will grow more and more common every year.

SOHL is on a mission to promote the teaching of languages in schools throughout the province. Thanks in part to annual global funding from the Culture Section of the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund and the Multicultural Initiatives Fund, the organization is able to build on its achievements.

“Lottery funding has made a genuine impact on our ability to deliver programs and keep heritage language learning alive in Saskatchewan,” says Beulah Fernando, special projects chair, SOHL. “The Multicultural Initiatives fund grant supports our Mini Language Learning lessons, which is one of our most successful programs.”

The Mini Language Lessons Program, now in its 14th year, gives heritage language teachers the opportunity to teach in regular school systems. In 2009, there a significant increase in teachers and communities involved. Over the last year, 45 teachers delivered lessons in 11 communities throughout Saskatchewan, from Estevan and Yorkton to North Battleford and Prince Albert. More than 1,250 students attend heritage language classes annually.

“Language is one of the primary ways of sustaining and understanding a culture, whether it’s your own, or your neighbour’s,” says Tamara Ruzic, executive director, SOHL. “The Mini Language Learning Program is a great way to reach out to children and acquaint them with the benefits of learning heritage languages.”

The program’s success has been noticed by other provinces hoping to establish their own pilot programs. “This program is unique to Saskatchewan” Ruzic says. “We believe that other provinces could really benefit from what we’ve learned.”