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Communities of Practice

An Alaskan Native Model for Language Teaching and Learning

Edited by Patrick E. Marlow and Sabine Siekmann

Publication Year: 2013

Educators, scholars, and community activists recognize that immersion education is a key means to restoring Indigenous and other heritage languages. But language maintenance and revitalization involve many complex issues, foremost may be the lack of local professional development opportunities for potential language teachers.

In Alaska, the Second Language Acquisition Teacher Education (SLATE) project was designed to enable Indigenous communities and schools to improve the quality of native-language and English-language instruction and assessment by focusing on the elimination of barriers that have historically hindered degree completion for Indigenous and rural teachers. The Guided Research Collaborative (GRC) model, was employed to support the development of communities of practice through near-peer mentoring and mutual scaffolding. Through this important new model, teachers of both the heritage language, in this case Central Yup’ik, and English were able to situate their professional development into a larger global context based on current notions of multilingualism.

In Communities of Practice contributors show how the SLATE program was developed and implemented, providing an important model for improving second-language instruction and assessment. Through an in-depth analysis of the program, contributors show how this project can be successfully adapted in other communities via its commitment to local control in language programming and a model based on community-driven research.

Communities of Practice demonstrates how an initial cohort of Yup’ik- and English-language teachers collaborated to negotiate and ultimately completed the SLATE program. In so doing, these educators enhanced the program and their own effectiveness as teachers through a greater understanding of language learning. It is these understandings that will ultimately allow heritage- and English-language teachers to work together to foster their students’ success in any language.


Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. 1-1

Cover Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. vi-vii

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pp. vii-9

We acknowledge the help and support throughout this project of our regional grant partners and their representatives: Vivian Korthius of the Association of Village Council Presidents; Abby Augustine, Gayle Miller, ...

Prologue: Community of Practice

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-4

As Indigenous language communities struggle with language loss, many scholars (Hinton & Hale 2001; Johnson & Swain 1997) and community activists (Kipp 2000) now recognize immersion education as the primary means of ...

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1. SLATE Context and History

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pp. 6-26

Central Yup’ik is traditionally spoken throughout southwestern Alaska, from Norton Sound to Bristol Bay, an area covering more than 112,000 square miles (roughly the size of Arizona; see Figure 1.1). More densely ...

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2. Mentoring: Engaging Communities of Practice

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pp. 27-50

In Chapter 1, we provided an overview of the Graduate Research Collaboratives (GRCs) model, which was a primary organizational framework for students’ research interests. Underscoring the concept of the GRCs was the goal of establishing relationships within a collaborative ...

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3. Reinventing Technology: Computers as Tools for Coconstructing the Local Voice in Materials Development

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pp. 51-72

This chapter is based on data collected as part of a larger, longitudinal study of the Second Language Acquisition Teacher Education (SLATE) project. Specifically, we report on data collected during a Second Language Curriculum and Materials Development course held in summer ...

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4. On Becoming a “Literate” Person: Meaning Making with Multiliteracies and Multimodal Tools

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pp. 73-100

In this chapter, we tell the story of the conception, development, and implementation of a summer intensive master’s-level course titled “Multiliteracies in Second Language Classrooms.” By multiliteracies we mean ...

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5. Teachers Drawing on the Power of Place to Indigenize Assessment

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pp. 101-118

This chapter focuses on data generated in the summer intensive course “Assessment for the Second Language Classroom.” The course focused on theories of assessment, particularly pressing issues for K–12 teachers in the era of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and practical development and ...

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6. Ellangluni: Power, Awareness, and Agency in Language Planning

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pp. 119-135

This chapter focuses on data generated in a summer intensive course investigating language policy and planning as it relates to endangered language contexts. For us, language policy and planning includes both ...

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7. Conversations

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pp. 136-156

This final chapter derives from a three-day summative program evaluation session with the Second Language Acquisition Teacher Education (SLATE) faculty. This evaluation session was conducted in November ...

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pp. 157-160

Although this volume focuses exclusively on the Second Language Acquisition Teacher Education (SLATE) project, this program is neither the beginning nor the end of our story. Partnerships like those that were at the ...

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pp. 161-170

Patrick Marlow is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Alaska Native Language Center and the School of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. ...

About the Editors

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pp. 171-172

About the Contributors

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pp. 173-175


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pp. 177-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599868
E-ISBN-10: 0816599866
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530168
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530165

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 9 halftones, 12 tables
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 841912507
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Communities of Practice

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Alaska natives -- Languages -- Study and teaching.
  • Alaska natives -- Education.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Study and teaching.
  • Second language acquisition -- Study and teaching.
  • Education, Bilingual -- Alaska.
  • Bilingualism in children -- Alaska.
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