Experience with learning Indigenous or obscure Languages (w/limited resources)

Hello I am curious to know if anyone has had any success using the fluent forever method with Indigenous Languages such as Cree, Saulteaux or any other type of language where resources are very limited and a limited number people speak them. I am open to any suggestions/comments/questions regarding this topic as I am trying to learn Plains Cree (Y Dialect) with this method and any tips would be great. There are roughly 87,555 speakers of this language in Canada. I have one uncle who is fluent and my grandmother who speaks only cree, with her english language knowledge being very limited. Cree resources in general are quite limited but with my dialect there is probably the most resources.

* Originally posted by kristy1ca.

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  • Did you end up figuring anything out, or making a decision? I was just thinking about the same thing for Quechua, although there may be slightly more resources for learning it because it is considered an official language by several countries (albeit poorer than Canada), not just sub-national governments.

    Since no one else responded, I'll list my thoughts on the main challenges to consider, based around the three main concepts of the method. To summarize, for obscure or indigenous languages, this method is more challenging for the same reason orthodox methods are difficult - there is less information, materials, and media available for/in the language. For this method in particular, lack of audio material would be a big stumbling block. However, spaced repetition software (SRS) is still usable, and some of the other study methods can help improve the effectiveness your study no matter what method ends up making sense.

    1. Learn pronunciation first

      • Is there a phonetic inventory for you target language? - Ithe FF method generally recommends using IPA to learn the phonetics, and a phonetic inventory is going to make your life much easier. Sometimes you can search "[language] phonology" and get a page dedicated solely to this topic, but neither Quechua nor any of the Cree languages seem to have this in Wikipedia. Next best is if the language has a paragraph on phonology on the wikipedia page for the language - Quechua has this on the Wikipedia language page, but not for dialects, while Cree seems a little better covered, with phonology sections on the main and dialect pages. This is a fairly large obstacle to the method as envisioned.

      • Can you find audio recordings of the sounds you want to learn in your target language? - this feels like one of the bigger hurdles, but maybe in your case you can record your uncle or grandmother (this will also come up again with spaced repetition), or if you are in community you may already have some exposure to the sounds you'll need to make. For other cases, I think Forvo is a frequently recommended resource

    2. Don't translate

      • Is google search in this language? - one trick for not translating is to find images of the word in the target language, using the google in the target language, because the term may have shades of meaning not present in your origin language. Google Search is offered in Quechua, I couldn't figure out if it's offered in any form of Cree. This one is probably surmountable, I think you can probably use images from google search in a language you already know (English, Spanish etc)

      • Audio recordings pt 2 - words - You're going to want audio recordings of native speakers saying the words in the target language. You might be able to get around this on Forvo, or to record people you know saying the words

      • Example sentences - if there are no grammar books or sources of example sentences, you will struggle with this too. Hopefully there are at least some basic books available for your language. But the method's recommendations to have cards sentences with one blank (missing word, or tense or mood marker, or whatever feature you're testing) and pictures to test one word or concept at a time is probably still useful.

    3. Used spaced repetition

      • No problems here - assuming you have a computer (MUCH harder with only a smartphone, maybe impossible?), and can find wordlists or dictionaries, you can use Anki SRS, no problem. The only wrinkle would come from previous sections; if phonologies, audio recordings, or images found using the target language google search are unavailable, you have to improvise. The learning theory is that adding images and audio recordings helps you test the concept so you can improve long-term learning/retention. Plus, you would eventually want to testing cards where you hear the audio, and then recall the meaning, without seeing text,

      • Learning the 625 words - this is still usable! Even if there's not a frequency dictionary for Cree, you can adapt the 625 words list. Think about the kinds of topics (nouns, verbs, adjectives) that come up when you are talking to your grandma or uncle, and maybe see if any of the words on the existing list aren't very relevant. For instance, maybe Cree has a different color inventory than the colors listed in the book, or maybe some for some of the words the Cree word is just an English loanword and you can de-emphasize it from study. If you are able to remove any words, then you can think of words that are relevant specifically to your life and the topics you want to communicate and then add those back in to get back up to 625.

    Anyway, maybe you already figured something out, I'm really curious to know if you did. If this is too late to be helpful, hopefully other people in your situation can use these thoughts. Also, if you do get recordings of people saying words, phrases or sentences, you might want to consider throwing it up on Forvo, maybe labelling it as Plains Cree. Currently the Cree section there has 590 words, but there doesn't appear to be any distinction of dialect.

    * Originally posted by stoodler.

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