Language teacher Amanda Robinson calls on volunteers to match names with sea creatures during a Sm’algyax language unit. Robinson said she has been pleased at how well the students are learning names of North Coast sea creatures and acknowledged the help she has received from fluent Sm’algyax speaker

Tsimshian to be taught in elementary schools

The Prince Rupert School District (SD52) is expanding its Sm’algyax Language program in September.

The Prince Rupert School District (SD52) is expanding its Sm’algyax Language program in September.

Starting next school year, all students in kindergarten to Grade 4 in schools throughout the district will receive instructional time on the language of the Coast Tsimshian people, Sm’algyax.

“We felt it was very important for many reasons, one reason being it creates a cultural awareness,” said Sandra Jones, superintendent of SD52.

“Also, the value of learning, even a little bit, of a second language is excellent … It’s good for you in many ways intellectually.”

The Sm’algyax Language program has been in the curriculum of kindergarten to Grade 4 students at Conrad and Roosevelt for about 10 year, as well as for students in Hartley Bay.

The district isn’t adding any more teaching time for the expansion, with the current amount of time being divvied up amongst all schools.

“It is not an immersion program, nor is it intended to create fluency – it is essentially a ‘taster’ of the language to complement the other curricular pieces in place in our schools that pertain to Ts’msyen culture, history and so on,” explained Jones, adding kindergarten students will receive an hour of play and activity based instruction, with Grades 1 to 4 students getting approximately 40 minutes per week of instruction.


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