The ANA Messenger: Native Languages Edition 2014
Le Fetuao Samoan Language Preservation and Maintenance in Hawaii
Over the past several decades, competency in the Samoan language has shown a marked decrease among successive generations of U.S.-born Samoans. This language loss has created problems for Samoan youth in the areas of literacy, educational attainment, and identity. While there is a university-level Samoan language program and two high school programs in Hawaii, there are no wide-spread educational schemes in place, public or private, to keep Samoan a viable living language for local-born youth. The city and county of Honolulu has one of the largest urban population cores of Samoans in the U.S., yet without educational strategies for teaching Samoan, the culture and language is steadily dying out with each succeeding generation. Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center (LFSLC) was founded to address this problem. Our grant works to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Samoan language and culture for future generations.
When Le Fetuao held its first class in 2008, survey questions included in LFSLC registration indicated that about 98% of children participants of LFSLC could not speak, read, or write Samoan when they initially entered the center.
This three year grant is working to accomplish three objectives. The first is to develop a formalized, culturally-based Samoan language curriculum and evaluation tools. Once developed, the curriculum will encompass teacher manuals and student worksheets for a full semester of Samoan language instruction, beginning with rudimentary skills including the Samoan alphabet. By the end of the project, we hope to this disseminate the curriculum to 20 teachers.
In accomplishing the second objective, LFSLC hopes to have increased the Samoan language capabilities and fluencies of 30 instructional staff (20 teachers and 10 teaching assistants) at three community-based sites, as demonstrated through successful completion of trainings in years two and three and certification of 30 teachers in Samoan language instruction.
As part of the final objective, LFSLC will have expanded Samoan language education to include three community-based sites. These sites will engage 500 children and 20 parent and community volunteers in the study of Samoan language by the end of the project.