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Immersion and Early Childhood Language Programs Worldwide

This page provides links to a variety of language nests, early childhood immersion programs, and other Indigenous language programs both in Canada and internationally.

Te Kōhanga Reo

Some of the first known language nest programs were created in the 1980s by the Māori in New Zealand. In fact, the term "language nest" is a direct translation of the name Te Kōhanga Reo, which expresses the concept of nurturing children in a nest-like environment. The first Kōhanga Reo was opened in 1982 and by the end of that year over a hundred Kōhanga Reo were created. Today there are more than 460 programs successfully running all over New Zealand, providing space for children to learn Māori language, culture, and values.
Ministry of Education
Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
Te Kete Ipurangi
Te Rautaki Reo Māori/ The Māori Language Strategy

ʻAha Pūnana Leo

In 1896, American Indian languages were outlawed from use in education in the United States. This had an incredibly disastrous effect on Hawaiians and their culture. The following years saw a drastic loss of fluent language speakers. In 1982 a group of remaining fluent speaks joined together to find a strategy to promote language acquisition. These speakers realized that in order to revitalize their language they needed to have their children speaking Hawaiian. In 1984 the first Pūnana Leo preschool opened in Kekaha, Kaua‘i. Similar to Te Kōhanga Reo, Pūnana Leo means "nest of voices." This immersion program was implemented throughout Hawai'i and led to Hawaiian-medium education from Kindergarten - Grade 12, resulting in a growth of Hawaiian language speakers.
'Aha Pūnana Leo

Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai'i

What is Pūnana Leo
No 'Ane'i Ko Kākou Ola
ʻAuhea ʻOe e ke Kumu
Indigenous Language Revitalization: The Hawaiian Experience
Indigenous Language Revitalization: The Hawaiian Experience - See more at: http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/2012/03/01/indigenous-language-revitalization-the-hawaiian-experience/#sthash.6rpV6ZgT.dpuf

Chief Atahm School

The first language nest in B.C. began in the 1980s at what is now Chief Atahm School.  The school is now a model for B.C. First Nations language immersion programming. 
T'selcéwtqen Clleqmél'ten
Land of the Shuswap

See also: The First Nations Language Nests: Your Guide to Operating a Successful Language Immersion Program for the Very Young

Salish School of Spokane

The Salish School of Spokane offers Salish immersion classes to children ages 12-29 months, two and a half to three years, and four to five years. Here children learn both the Salish language and the values of the Salish people. The school also offers language classes to parents and families.
Salish School of Spokane
Interior Salish: Enduring Languages of the Columbian Plateau
YouTube Video: Salish School of Spokane

Nk̓ʷusm Salish Language Institute

This non-profit organization was founded in 2002 by four young Salish people hoping to revitalize their language. The organization runs a Salish Language Apprentice Program and Snqwiiqwo Snacxlqimintn (The Place of Racing School) also referred to as Salish Language School. Currently, they are running a pre-school and primary school on the Flathead Reservation.
Nk̓ʷusm Salish Language Institute

Karonhianonhnha Tsi Ionterihwaiensthakwa

Up until 1970 there was no Mohawk language instruction in schools. In 1970 a group of language advocates with support from the principal introduced 15 minutes of Mohawk language instruction into each day. The following years resulted in an increase of teacher training and resource development. However, in 1976 the National Museum of Man in Ottawa, Canada, conducted a survey which showed that Mohawk was an endangered language. This surprised many in the community and encouraged them to work even harder at setting up Mohawk language instruction. In 1979, the first total-immersion nursery was created as a trial. This same class of children continued on to a full-immersion kindergarten and then on to a partial immersion grade 1; this lasted until grade 4. In 1983 the community created a permanent Kanien’kéha language curriculum office. As the years progressed the schools established permanent programs and increased the years of immersion covered at school.
The Kahnawake Education Center

Karonhianonhnha Tsi Ionterihwaiensthakwa

Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS)

The AFS was created in 1979 by a group of parents who wished to see more Mohawk in schools. They created a total-immersion program which continues to provide education from Kindergarten through to grade 8. The school aims to provide Mohawk language instruction and Kanien’kéha cultural learning for all the children. Check out the curriculum on the school website! The second link takes you to a documentary discussing the immersion program and what it takes to maintain and learn a language.
Akwesasne Freedom School

Mushkeg Media

Kihew Waciston Cree Immersion School

In 1981 the Onion Lake Cree Nation took over education control for their children. The Kihew Waciston Cree Immersion School is one of the Onion Lake Cree Nation schools. This school has over 200 students and provides education for nursery to grade 4 students. The school uses the Gift of Language Immersion program, which is a framework created to support First Nations' language teachers. The framework was developed for the Cree language but is designed so that any teacher can adapt the material for their own language.
Onion Lake Cree Nation
Cree Beyond Words
Gift of Language Introduction

nion Lake Cree Nation finally took total control of their children's education in 1981 - See more at: http://www.onionlake.ca/education/education#sthash.COw58IW5.dpuf
nion Lake Cree Nation finally took total control of their children's education in 1981 - See more at: http://www.onionlake.ca/education/education#sthash.COw58IW5.dpuf
nion Lake Cree Nation finally took total control of their children's education in 1981 - See more at: http://www.onionlake.ca/education/education#sthash.COw58IW5.dpufOnion Lake Cree Nation

Enweyang Language Nest

This language nest is run on the University of Minnesota Duluth's campus. The nest offers a reciprocal relationship between teachers and children and provides a space where teachers can complete Ojibwe language immersion teacher training. It also offers a space for children to receive full immersion in order to promote language, culture, and traditions.

Enweyang Language Nest

The following links are not for the Enweyang Language Nest but contain information about other Ojibwe language schools and resources.
Seven generations Language Institute

Mnidoo Mnising Anishinabek Kinoomaage-gamig (MMAK)

This Ojibwe immersion kindergarten program was implemented in 2013 as a response to a 2012 survey which identified immersion programming as a high priority for the community. The survey was conducted because it was realized that children in the community were not learning the Ojibwe language. The program intends to run for five years and go up to grade 4. This site offers FAQs about their program as well as a detailed literature review on immersion programs.
Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute

Wicoie Nandagikendan Early Childhood Urban Immersion Program

This program provides three hours a day of language immersion in Ojibwe and Dakota. The program began in 2006 and is supporting three preschools: Four Directions Ojibwe, High-5 Ojibwe, and High-5 Dakota. Here you can find books, songs, and vocabulary lists.
Wicoie Nandagikendan Early Childhood Urban Immersion Program

Tséhootsooí Diné Bi'ólta' Navajo Immersion School

This school offers Diné, or Navajo, language immersion from grades K-8. Full immersion is provided for children in kindergarten and first grade. English instruction begins in the third grade. The school is located in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Make sure to check out "The Navajo Nation Office of Dine Culture, Language, and Community Service" link where you can find a lesson planning handbook.
The Navajo Department of Diné Education

The Navajo Nation Office of Dine Culture, Language, and Community Service
Our Mother Tongues
Window Rock Unified School District

Ayaprun Elitnaurvik-Yup’ik Immersion School

In 1995, after many years of hard work, a Yup'ik immersion kindergarten program was developed. In the following years the program increased to cover more grades. The school continues to promote Yup'ik language and culture.
Yup'ik Immersion School

Keres Children's Learning Center (KCLC)

The KCLC works to maintain, strengthen, and revitalize the Keres language of the Cochiti Pueblo children and families. The KCLC uses the Montessori method and supports learning Keres by using natural speech with the children.
Keres Children's Learning Center

tsalagi tsunadeloquasdi

tsalagi tsunadeloquasdi was created in 2001 to support the Cherokee language. The program started in response to a survey finding that no one in their community under the age of 40 was able to carry out a conversation in the language. The school covers preschool to grade 5.
Cherokee Nation

See also the Kituwah Preservation & Education link for other early childhood Cherokee immersion programs.

Wôpanâôt8ây Pâhshaneekamuq: Wampanoag Language Immersion Charter School

Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) is a non-profit organization that is working to open a Wampanoag language immersion school. The school is intended to open August 2015 and provide education from kindergarten to grade 3. The school intends to expand over the years to provide immersion education for all grades up to middle school. 
Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project

Thunder Valley Lakota Immersion Childcare

The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation supports Lakota youth and families in improving the health, culture and environment of their communities through healing and strengthening cultural identity. The Lakota Immersion Childcare program provides pre-school children with a nurturing and enriching environment to learn the Lakota language. 
Lakota Immersion Childcare

Social Media

Find some of these programs on social media!


Squamish Lil'wat CC
Living Tongues


Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Center in Whistler
Salish School of Spokane
'Aha Pūnana Leo
Seven Generations Education Institute
Kituwah Preservation & Education Program
Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawenna
Youth Chinuk Immersion Program


Squamish Lil'way Cultural Center
'Aha Pūnana Leo
ʻĀhaʻi ʻŌlelo Ola
Nkwusm- Salish Language School

If you know of other language immersion programs, specifically those that support children, feel free to contact us so that we can share this information.

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