How We Teach
The WAYK system is a comprehensive method for revitalizing endangered languages and skills. Endangered languages are languages on the precipice, with only a handful of speakers left as a result of colonization, and the impact of modern economic culture. They are the languages for which every hour and every day counts as elderly speakers slip away. We are in the middle of a generation of tremendous language loss. This is happening right now.
Evan Gardner, the founder of WAYK, designed it as an answer to these challenging issues of language revitalization, where every second counts. Because of this, the WAYK system has come to be the most rapid and effective tool that we know of for learning any language, endangered or not. The series of Techniques that WAYK employs invites any language learner, any language teacher, anyone willing to play, to contribute to the system. By engaging a community, we hope to strengthen a community, as languages cannot survive without a community in which they can live.
WAYK encourages players to use sign language (American Sign Language, Signed Exact English, or another sign language appropriate to your spoken language/region) as a bridge language and a memory tool. We recommend connecting signs with vocabulary words or grammatical structures and using the signs and speech simultaneously. However, the signs that you use in this way are NOT techniques, rather this is the perfect application of just one technique, Sign Language. TQs, on the other hand, precipitate a particular response or change in the activity or environment. Using sign language increases comprehension, but throwing a TQ makes something happen!
You may notice that some techniques have similar hand signs and some don’t have a sign. As with all languages, some concepts can’t be expressed in a single sign. However, the system is designed so that most of the techniques that you’ll need to maintain an immersion setting have a distinct hand sign to go with them. If no sign exists for a TQ that you wish to use, simply make the general Technique sign and say the name of the TQ. (Alternatively, you can use the sign for Technique as a signal anytime you need to take a time out from an activity to discuss strategies.) One more comment about hand signs:
as you may notice from our pictures, either hand can be used for making the signs. As a dynamic and accessible method of language learning WAYK forms the basis of our approach to the revitalization of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language.
In 2016, Kwi Awt Stelmexw (The Sníchim Foundation’s precursor) partnered with SFU’s First Nations Languages Centre and Department of Linguistics to launch a two-year, full-time, adult immersion program in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language. Since then, over 40 students have achieved intermediate proficiency, and we are expanding our offerings to deepen fluency and support learners to take the language into daily life in our communities. Alongside the certificate and diploma programs, the Sníchim Foundation offers a variety of language immerions courses and opportunities for our learners including summer immersion programs and language and culture immersion porgrams such as the cooking immersion program. The intensive immersion experience provides multifaceted cultural connection through traditional songs, legends, and interactions with other community members delivered in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language.
The Sníchim Foundation runs on funding from government, foundations, and philanthropists, but we can do more with donations from the public. With your generous support, our organization is able to do this essential and urgent work, and your donation will directly fund initiatives like our Language Centre Fund and support job creation for graduates of the diploma program as new language teachers.
We are grateful for every dollar donated to support our very special and sacred work.