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Play as a tool for language and literacy learning in the Sami classroom

Research project The residential school system and assimilation policies and practices have led to the assimilation and marginalization of Sami people, their languages, knowledge, values and culture. By reconnecting children with their Indigenous languages and knowledges as well as creating new arenas for language use by a focus on play activities, the project’s goal is to develop pedagogical practices for Sami language learning.

Play is beneficial for children’s development. However, it is decreasing as educators focus on academic achievement in school. The overall aim of this project is to strengthen Indigenous children’s language skills through play-based activities. The project has the potential to contribute to new insights into Sami language and literacy didactics that may inform teaching as well as curriculum development.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2020-10-01 2023-10-01

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Language Studies

Research area

Educational sciences, Sami studies

Project description

This project’s objective is to support Sami language revitalization by investigating the role of play and play-based approaches for Sami language learning. It responds to the 4th Horizon 2030 goal for the improvement of educational achievement and success of children and focuses particularly on indigenous children and their knowledge, values and tradition in education supporting a secure sustainable, inclusive and equitable future.

 

The importance of play

To help children develop to their full potential, play has been identified to improve their cognitive, social and emotional well-being, as well as to develop their cultural and individual identities that support academic achievement. However, over the past decades playing activities have declined in the classroom, affecting children’s health and educational success. Play-based teaching approaches to language teaching can support indigenous language (re)vitalization by constructing traditional, cultural as well as contemporary arenas for language use, thereby helping to form children’s future identities within their communities and broader society

 

Qualitative research design

The project is based on indigenous methodologies and collaborative action research (CAR) and will be carried out in close collaboration with teachers and middle school students (age 10-15 years old) in Sweden.

 

Educational implication

The project has the potential to contribute to new insights into Sami language and literacy didactics that may inform teaching as well as curriculum development. It will also contribute to multilingual didactics more generally.

 

Collaboration with University of Toronto

This project is a collaboration between the Department of Language studies, Umeå University and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Both institutes focus on Indigenous school related issues.