“No English Allowed” was the slogan posted in several spots around the language immersion camp at Second Mesa in July and August of this summer. The immersion technique helps to break barriers, especially for those who understand a lot of Hopi, but are hesitant to speak it. Since the whole point is to start speaking, eventually everyone does, especially as they see others doing the same thing. This is the advantage of an immersion camp. By the end of the three weeks, everyone is speaking a lot, and they will never go back to their original feeling of fear about making mistakes.
The three-week camp ran from July 23rd to August 9th at the learning center trailer at Toreva. Sixty-one children attended and eight instructors worked to help them speak only Hopi at the camp.
The camp was preceded by an intensive training for the instructors that lasted three days. Donna Boyden from the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico came to do the training with the language camp staff. After it was finished, the teachers continued to work each day to prepare the materials to teach the students.
Teachers were dedicated community members who are considered “speakers” of the language. They received small stipends for their participation and agreed to try to help “non-speakers” learn more Hopi to preserve and protect the language and their culture.
One class was devoted to older teens and adults who really wanted to learn. Most students were beginners, but some were intermediate, so teachers prepared their lessons according to what their group needed. The groups also enjoyed fun and snacks together.
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