Why Teach Our Kids Armenian?


BY MYRNA DOUZJIAN

As a proud graduate of Alex Pilibos, I often like to reflect on the fruits that local Armenian schools have borne over the last forty years. There’s no shortage of teachers, administrators, artists, musicians, writers, editors, journalists, filmmakers, political activists, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, mathematicians, architects, business owners and professionals. Some have even made big names for themselves. Every year we read about the impressive acceptance rates of Armenian school graduates into some of the country’s most prestigious universities. There’s no doubt, Armenian schools, students, and parents are doing many things right in the field of education.

Yet there remains a gaping hole in the demographics of the citizens that our schools have produced. None of our community’s Armenian language arts instructors, Armenian-language writers, journalists, or editors is a graduate of one of our local schools. This fact is highly disturbing. Are we really incapable of producing a single, homegrown Armenian language and literature teacher? Our community and our academic institutions have failed miserably in this regard.

Two weeks ago I attended a small conference addressing the issue of Armenian language instruction at Vahan and Anoush Chamlian Armenian School, in the Los Angeles suburb of La Crescenta. Conference attendees and participants included Armenian school alumni, parents of students currently at Chamlian, a few of the school’s Armenian instructors and administrators, university-level Armenian language instructors and literature and composition instructors. As expected, the initial conversation raised more questions than it answered: Why can’t graduates, after attending Armenian school for at least a decade, compose a single grammatical paragraph in Armenian? What are the goals of Armenian language instruction in our schools? Is it enough for students to graduate with intermediate oral proficiency and elementary reading and writing proficiency in Armenian?

With regard to the question of goals, Professor Hagop Gulludjian, who teaches Western Armenian at UCLA, introduced the concept of a critical mass – a small minority of the speakers of a given language who are engaged in intellectual activity, creative and journalistic writing. According to his argument, in order for Armenian to continue to be a living language in our community, our schools need to work toward creating such a critical mass. In a follow-up conversation with him, he stressed that we’re talking very small numbers here – two to three hundred adult readers, a handful of writers and thinkers, and a couple of teachers per generation are enough to keep the language alive and evolving and to carry it over to the next generation. Gulludjian’s presentation explicitly highlighted the absence of an Armenian-language intellectual elite educated in our schools – the teachers, linguists, writers, journalists, translators, and editors that every culture with a literary capital must have in order to subsist.

Although seemingly a very feasible goal, we’re quite a ways away from the production of a critical mass, at least from my perspective. Here, I must digress for a moment in order to place this problem in a larger context. The decline in language literacy is an all too familiar symptom plaguing the entire American nation. Year after year, I’ve witnessed this phenomenon in my literature and composition courses at UCLA, where students write papers that consist of incomprehensible sentences, like this one: “Lives are situated with specialized obligations and uniform day-by-day procedures.” Unfortunately, this example represents the rule, not the exception. So it’s no exaggeration that “finding effective ways to teach today’s student population is perhaps the greatest challenge facing literacy educators in the United States” (Ernest Morrell “Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Popular Culture: Literacy Development Among Urban Youth” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Sept. 2002.)

And, of course, we’re all quite familiar with the humanities’ struggle to prove its relevance, because, unfortunately, “education in America today is almost exclusively about the GDP” and “the only subject under discussion, the only real criterion for investment—in short, the alpha and omega of educational policy—is jobs” (Mark Slouka, “Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School.” Harper’s Magazine. Sept. 2009.) Because utilitarian approaches to education are the norm, educators in the humanities find themselves having to frame the importance of what they do in terms of economic benefit. The often-unquantifiable benefits of humanities curricula – developing critical thinking and analytical skills, generating innovative ideas, challenging the status quo, and fostering creativity – are translated into the language of cost-benefit analysis. As a result, the humanities are almost constantly devalued and under the threat of attack.

The ways in which most people read and write have also changed dramatically. The increased digitization of literature and news media and the closure of bookstores (even our local Barnes & Noble in Encino closed down!) are all indications that the nature of reading is shifting toward the intangible – the electronic journal, the blog post, the e-reader. For the most part, except for the “critical mass” Professor Gulludjian identified, we don’t read, we skim. In fact, the process of being online can be considered a type of skimming. We surf from one webpage to the next, picking up “snidbits” of information from here and there.

Where does this leave the correlation between old-school reading and language literacy? It may very well be that our institutions struggle with language arts instruction because of this very shift that includes both a general decline in reading and a specific change in the ways in which we read. The “accelerated history” that Talar Chahinian mentioned in her Critics’ Forum article last month first and foremost implies the acceleration of language and communication. Consequently, my colleagues report that when they incorporate blogs and discussion boards online (both forms of what we might call accelerated, e-communication) into their curricula, their students respond immensely better than they do in the standard five-page writing assignments. I’ve also found it easier to teach critical analysis and writing through the incorporation of media available on YouTube, film, and visual materials. The challenge remains striking a balance between quick and culturally familiar material and difficult, sometimes abstract curricula.

So, it comes as no surprise that Armenian schools face a doubly steep up-hill battle in this hyper-utilitarian, e-centered, high-speed society of ours – that is, if one of their missions continues to be effective Armenian language arts instruction. They do, however, have many resources they can look to for support.  Armenian is one of the language options on Facebook. Professor Gulludjian first brought to my attention that this feature could be appropriated in the form of interesting writing assignments for students at no cost to schools. Several resources online offer interesting research-based ideas about the incorporation of film, television and media in the language arts. The aforementioned article by Ernest Morrell is a good place to start. Most importantly, there are young college- and university-level Armenian language instructors, trained in the most up-to-date pedagogical methods, who should be employed by our schools as advisors to the programs in Armenian language arts.

In that regard, Shushan Karapetyan, a PhD student in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department at UCLA, also presented the findings of her research at the conference at Chamlian. Among other things, she pointed out that, according to studies conducted by linguists in various foreign languages, heritage language learners have the ability to achieve near native fluency in a language four times faster than those studying a language from an entirely blank slate. (Heritage language learners are those who, with varying degrees of proficiency, have learned a language that is not the dominant one spoken in their larger social environment, because they spoke it at home.) To all of us listening, that minor statistic highlighted the importance of speaking Armenian at home. Karapetyan, who designed the curriculum for heritage Armenian for high school students at UCLA, has amassed a wealth of information about active learning strategies in the language arts. Her presentation was especially impressive because it situated Armenian-language instruction within pedagogical trends and statistical findings across several other foreign languages.

Our community hasn’t produced a critical mass of Armenian readers and writers because we have financially and ideologically devalued the roles that such a group of intellectuals would play. If we want to develop a new direction for our American-born generations, we need to create high-paying positions and worthwhile endowments in the Armenian language arts. And the thinkers and innovators will follow. But perhaps it’s too late. Perhaps we’ve already given up on the survival of the Armenian language in the Diaspora. Perhaps it’s a language that’s too irrelevant (and, in the case of Western Armenian, on the path toward extinction). If not, then we need to put our money where our mouth is. No serious educational effort succeeds without major financial and moral investment. We don’t need more churches or community centers. We need the critical mass that our Armenian schools have the potential to produce, and we need to stop relying on waves of immigration to keep the Armenian language alive in the US. It seems Chamlian plans to take further steps in this regard with efforts at modernizing its pedagogical approach to Armenian language arts instruction. I hope that the local educational boards of our schools will follow Chamlian’s footsteps in addressing this issue by taking serious and immediate practical measures. And I hope that the community will provide fervent support for such a movement. Otherwise, the answer to the question posed by the title of this article will continue to remain ambiguous.

Myrna Douzjian is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at UCLA, where she teaches literature and composition courses. She or  any of the other contributors to Critics’ Forummay be contacted at comments@criticsforum.org.  This and all other articles published in this series are available online at www.criticsforum.org.  To sign up for a weekly electronic version of new articles, go to www.criticsforum.org/join.  Critics’ Forum is a group created to discuss issues relating to Armenian art and culture in the Diaspora.

23 Responses

for “Why Teach Our Kids Armenian?”

  1. kathi ferris says:

    I worked for 18-plus years teaching English in an Armenian school in Pasadena. Over the passage of time I noticed an erosion in the importance of the Armenian language in the parents of my students. Whenever measures were taken to strengthen the Armenian component in the school, the first to fight were the parents. They expressed the belief that their kids needed only a working knowledge of spoken Armenian–conversational Armenian. Their kids didn’t need to be able to read or write it–English was the accepted language of the future. As an American, I found this attitude unbearably sad–loss of cultural identity and the stories of the history of the people has led to many other losses: stable family units, respect for the culture, and providing a positive witness about Armenia and Armenians are three areas that have experienced this loss. In my first years at the school, I went from knowing almost nothing about the history and culture of Armenian to becoming an honorary Armenian–something I am very proud of!–but I don’t think that this would happen today. Kathi Ferris

    • Parent of Armenian School Student says:

      The problem addressed by Myrna predates social networks and even the popularization of email. It has been around since the creation of Armenian day schools in the USA. But we simply cannot blame our schools for a situation that is merely the consequence of a choice the vast majority of Armenian families make: not to teach their kids how to speak Armenian.

      Do we expect public schools to teach kindergarteners how to speak English? No, they are supposed to come in knowing how to speak. Those who cannot do so attend English as a Second Language (ESL) classes until they eventually catch up and join their peers in regular classes. These students are usually motivated to move out of the remedial classes. However, those students who go straight to remedial Armenian class when they enter Armenian schools have parents who already made the choice that speaking Armenian is not important, at least in 99% of the cases. With that attitude, chances are close to nil that such students ever transfer into the regular Armenian track. Upon graduation, they won’t speak Armenian any better than an unmotivated American student will speak French after being forced to take years of French. The result is predictably pathetic.

      Having two young children in Armenian school, I have actually been pleased beyond expectations with the quality of Armenian instruction. The problem does not come from our institutions. It comes from parents who do not want their kids to “waste” time and effort on Armenian. Who complain that Armenian grades should not count towards their kids’ GPAs. It comes from grandmothers who’d rather speak to their preschooler grandchildren in horrible broken English rather than in Armenian. Why do they send to their kids to Armenian schools then? As another poster wrote, I guess it is so that their kids get a whiff of Armenian culture and be in a nurturing environment, and perhaps because our schools provide a safe ans decent environment for a lot less money than most private schools.

      So in the end, this is not a failing of our institutions. Their student bodies are simply a reflection of the majority attitude of our community. I would rather not pass judgment and simply resign to the fact that this is what it is. But I will say that this makes the job of those parents who actually care about this issue substantially harder.

  2. I want to point to the author’s attention that the nonsensical “Critical Mass” point-talk is absolute absurdity. Certainly, it is a tautology when we state: “The problem of the lack of critical mass is the actual lack of critical mass”. Instead of such nonsense, or useless tautologies, let us concentrate on the very question of “why a language is for?”, and “how a child would like to talk?” and if so, “Why they prefer a language over another?”. In Armenian, we say “շրջանարութեան մէջ դնել”, if a language is not used, it does not matter how many good language teachers sacrifice their lives to preserve a language. In essence, myself, writing this paragraphs in English in an Armenian news media website is indeed the problem.
    I have pointed out to Professor Hagop Gulludjian, the essential steps on how to resurrect the Armenian language. Here are some of the points:
    (1) Do not publish Armenian related media in non-Armenian language, unless it is directed to non-Armenian audience. And even in this later case, it should be bilingual with N:1 footing, ‘N > 1′ for Armenian version, ‘1′ for foreign version.
    (2) Make lots of high quality and culturally strong Armenian movies. By Armenian movie, I mean a movie in clean and correct Armenian and about Armenians, with strong cultural overtones. People love strong, professional and good quality, artistic movies, and Armenian culture has very strong elements in this area, that unfortunately have never been utilized before. We need to utilize these Armenian elements, along with true Armenian history (not falsified version taught at UCLA). The bottom line in this point is films in fluent and correct Armenian language. Making an movie about Armenians in English language, is the number one step to the White-Genocide.
    (3) Systematic support for the Armenian schools and true Armenian cultural organizations (and not those like that of UCLA).
    etc., etc.

  3. Edward Demian says:

    Schools for the Armenian language skills, exist already. However, they are too few and far too expensive. Language exposure works best when done early. Free of charge Armenian preschools is what is needed. Another opportunity that is being ignored is state funded Rehabilitation Centers. The Asian American Drug and Behavioral Rehabilitation Center is a State funded Foundation. They maintain several locations, one of them in West LA called the Olympic Academy. They obtain over $ 7000 dollars for each pupil per month. Another opportunity is the State Penal system. In California alone, there are over 14,000 inmates with Armenian last names. We could revive an ancient Armenian tradition of maintaining our own National Penal institutions in foreign lands. We could establish Low Risk penal institutions, admit Armenian inmates, into an Armenian speaking environment, actually teach them trades as well as Armenian culture and language. The state spends over $ 57,000 per inmate annually. These inmates are mostly drug offenders and would get true attention, and real rehabilitation from an Armenian environment. However, all these possibilities, need to be sponsored by the Eclisiastical Authorities, or NGO. Armenians used to think big, and full of vision. What happened to us?

  4. Ed says:

    What a thoughtful and timely article. Two things make and keep us Armenian: the Armenian language and the Armenian Church. Lose just one of them and we are done. In the Diaspora the risk is posed by the majority mainstream culture around us where speaking Armenian is simply not needed. In Armenia the risk is creation of a bastardized form of Armenian by infiltration of unnecessary Russian words, very often incorrectly used. Of course all languages borrow words, but that is not a license to bastardize our own language by unnecessary and indiscriminate borrowing. So whether you are in Diaspora or in Armenia: keep, learn and teach your language.

  5. [...] Why Teach Our Kids Armenian?Asbarez Armenian NewsMyrna Douzjian is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at UCLA, where she teaches literature and composition courses. She or any of the other contributors to Critics' Forummay be contacted at comments@criticsforum.org. … [...]

  6. A language that is not used, dies. As such, to keep a language alive, those concerned need to keep providing uses of the language. I propose something very simple. Those students attending Armenian Schools, as part of their Armenian language instruction, need to communicate in Armenian with each other over the Internet (Facebook, email). Once this is done, the critical mass will be created.

    Toros Babikian
    Montreal

  7. Shahe Yeni-Komshian, MD says:

    I value the fact that the Chamlian School Principal and Board have promoted the discussion of modernization of pedagogic approaches and active learning strategies in the instruction of Armenian language, and pushed it to the forefront.I will take the liberty to widen the compass.
    In order for the American born generations of Armenians to continue to speak our language, 2 different strategic goals should be pursued,involving 2 vastly different “critical masses” of the Armenian youth.The first is those Armenian-Americans who attend Armenian schools; this is the current topic under discussion.The second is a much larger critical mass involving 95% of our youth that does not attend Armenian schools.In helping promote the language literacy of this second group, we should engage in a much different approach and learning strategy.I hope that in due time enough interest arises to pursue practical strategies addressing the needs of the forgotten 95% Armenian critical mass entity.

  8. Norin Radd says:

    Make Armenian schools more affordable, Chamlian did not need a new Gymnasium or new lockers for some other school that had hundreds of thousands spent on it. The funds secured from the Church, donations, etc. should not be going towards making these school “more pretty”, rather, a giant fund to supplement tuition should have been created a long time ago to offset costs so that the Armenian kids with middle to lower socioeconomic status can also benefit from attending these schools instead of just the elitist “dual income” or upper class professional families’ children.

    Inevitably, the stupidity of the governing bodies of these schools will prevail yet again and in 3 months we will see Asbarez post yet another article stating: “Somethingian foundation donates $500,000 to Alex Pilibos, work on new bleachers to start right away”. . . .

  9. Jenny says:

    Armenian parents send their children to Armenian schools neither for the quality of standard education nor for the sake of Armenian language instruction, but for the culture (mshagooyt) and environment (mtnolord).

    I’ve witnessed and experienced on numerous occasions parents deriding the rigor of their children’s Armenian coursework, and similarly that of their English assignments, in favor of math and science courses they believe to be of more importance to their child’s future.

    What I think is unfortunate is that the talent and dedication of these Armenian language instructors we presently have at the junior high and high school level are being squandered when, as Myrna said in her article, students graduate from high school with a barely elementary level of oral and written proficiency (and this is not even taking into consideration whether they could put the Armenian kingdoms into the correct order).

    Oftentimes, another unfortunate product of a completely Armenian-schooled child is their apathy towards that very culture and environment they were reared in. After 12 or 13 years, they’re saturated and need a break. Yet, I see the opposite happen in kids who attend mainstream schools throughout their lives; they end up seeking their culture and heritage, and actively participate in the Armenian community.

    I credit ARS Saturday School and my mother for my Armenian language proficiency, and Armenian Cultural Studies courses in L.A. and at Venice’s Mekhitarian school for much of my knowledge of Armenian history. Armenian day schools, by virtue of having to teach the entire spectrum of courses, may not be the best environment for a child to receive a solid and lasting foundation in Armenian language and history. Six years of the four hours of Saturday School each week (at their exponentially cheaper price tag of $250 per year), along with a dedicated family, often lead to the same level of results as 13 years of Armenian day school instruction.

  10. leo says:

    the writer mentions “Western Armenian” as if its an ancient language. a devision that distinct was created very recently by our enemies. there were close to 50 Armenian dialects historians. They were not perfectly devided into east and west. We need to accept one powerful dialect with aspects of others and teach kids that and only that both in Armenia and the diaspora. or else this artificial devide causes us to forget Armenian in the diaspora. it is too different from Armenian spoken in Armenia. but all this schooling worthless if parents themselves dont speak Armenian frequently. the mentality and motivation starts from the family.

  11. manooshag says:

    Hye, suggestions for advancing use of the our Armenian language:
    - Use only Armenian language in the house
    - Use only English when outside the house
    - Children learn English very quickly…(TVs, odar friends, etc)
    - Works.

    Too, I know of a young lady, American born, whose family used the Armenian language at home, and too, she was a “Saturday only” Armenian school student.
    When she was to attend college she learned she needed a foreign language – she said that she was fluent/knowledgeable of the Armenian language – and asked if she could receive ‘credit’ for her knowledge of Armenian language, history, etc. The college agreed (an outstanding art school in New York city) and accordingly, a test was prepared, taken and – she passed with flying colors…. Thus she also saved monies due for language course requirements of the college!
    So, if Spanish speaking persons are offered ‘aids’… why not other languages??

  12. manooshag says:

    P.S. Early use of both Armenian and English is mind broadening… the sooner the greater results – which is true with learning the ‘times’ tables by heart… Too, early recognitions of various colors!! All broadening…

  13. Jackie B says:

    I went to an Armenian school in LA for 11 years. I speak worse Armenian compared to most of my friends who went to public school, simply because their parents made them speak Armenian in the home whereas mine didn’t. Sure, I can read/write better, but not by much. From my own experience I can say, we need to stop blaming Armenian schools for not producing fluent Armenian speakers. In Armenian school, I had Armenian classes for about 5-8 hours a week. When I moved on to public high school, I took Spanish 5 hours/week for four years. Do I speak any Spanish? NO. Would anyone blame the American public school system for not efficiently teaching me a language? Maybe, but they would be wrong to do so. So….whose fault is it? PARENTS. If you want kids to speak Armenian, they MUST be forced to speak it at home. Kids are at home, what, 80 hours a week? What in the world is 2 hours of Armenian class (max) going to do every day? Parents just try to throw money at the problem by taking their kids to Armenian school.

    I think Armenian school is great if you want your child to be immersed in the culture, meet Armenian friends, and SUPPLEMENT their knowledge of Armenian. I think it’s completely ridiculous to expect youths to become Armenian authors after attending Armenian school. Furthermore, one important thing we need to admit, which is hard to – we are Armenian-Americans, not Armenians. Being Armenian is *part* of our life.

  14. Tsoghig says:

    Myrna, very good article. After having taken Spanish in college, I really appreciated/realized that knowing how to read and write in Armenian helped me learn Spanish and and I think even if some Armenians don’t think it’s a valuable language to learn, it is extremely valuable in the sense that know more than one language opens up parts of our brain that otherwise wouldn’t be used. I think the Armenians in LA, most of them, not all, really take the community and the schools for granted.

  15. manooshag says:

    One mentions that the dialects are a problem. Well, being born in USA, and over the years was aware of the various dialects of the different areas of USA… guess what happened??
    As TVs were in all homes, over a short time, all the dialects dissolved… everyone speaking ALMOST the same, despite the various localisms that still occur.

  16. manooshag says:

    Recently was asked by a young student (8th grader) how she could learn to learn/speak the Armenian language. Her parentage is an Irish Mom and an Armenian father whose Mom was not Armenian and knows not Armenian.
    Any suggestions for the best ‘program’ available for a non-Armenian American youngster interested in learning to speak Armenian? Which, if any, programs… suggestions… Thanks!

    • Anahit says:

      Dear Manushak, I’ve just read about the young student who wants to learn Armenian . I am so sorry that there is such problem for Armenians. I am more than sure , that thousands of Armenian teachers will be happy to teach such students ,and not only them, but anybody who is eager to learn Armenian. I am a teacher of English and know my native language well enough to teach such people by means of video lessons. If you like this idea , I’ll be happy. I have some English lessons in You Tube. You can watch them searching ” English Lessons in Armenia ” + video ” . I can create such lessons in Armenian with Armenian textbooks. Write to me . astep6@rambler.ru
      Thanks.

  17. Artur says:

    I fully agree with what the article says but I don’t see a problem with Armenian youngsters in diaspora not being 100 % fluent in Armenian. They have to integrate into the world around them and naturally, developing a native level English (or French or Russian, Spanish etc.) is a critical thing. As far as Armenian identity is concerned, cultural exposure (songs, history, traditions ect.) are more important.
    However, If your principal goal in life is to have your children be Armenians you need to go and live in Armenia, if you have other priorities, then you have to yield part of your kids’ Armenia identity to something else for their own good in the new homeland, This is all about the choice, which you and your kids make. My firm belief that Armenian national l state is the only effective mechanism for preserving Armenian culture, language and identity.

  18. bigmoustache says:

    we should also be working hard to preserve our WESTERN armenian culture

  19. In our neck of the woods Armenian language is only taught at Sunday church schools. One was abandoned for a long time, because the priest’s kids were already grown up, and the other one told me that my kids don’t qualify because they “don’t speak Armenian” – an euphemism for “go away you non-Western Armenians”…

    We ended up sending our kids to a Russian school which accepted them with open arms… We pay a lot of money for that and about 25% of kids and 25% of TEACHERS there are ARMENIANS!! The rest are Jewish, Ukrainian, Kazakh, Belorussian and yes, even Russian – all telling the same story from their own communities.

    I conclude that Armenian schools were unable to adjust to the changes in demographics and would rather have no students then have students who could challenge the status quo that they are used to from 1960s.

    Hello, the times have changed. The Armenian youth that was abandoned 25 years ago did not produce a new generation of Armenians to study Armenian – they chose to become regularly plain Americans with an “ian” ending of the last name sometimes…

  20. Lori says:

    I agree with Jackie. I too am a product of Armenian schools. I went to Chamlian and walked away unable to properly spell in Armenian. I later when to Ferrahian and finally my spelling began to improve due to the diligent efforts of Digin and Baron Bedrossian two outstanding educators! I can speakand read Armenian very comfortably and am proud of my rich vocabulary. However, unfortunately, I can not attribute that to my Armenian schools because my family always spoke Armenian and did not dumb down their level of Armenian around me and I was encourage to read the Asbarez out loud at home to sharpen my skills. I can however forever be grateful to Digin and Baron Bedrossian for instilling in me a love for Armenian literature. As an AYF member I also witnessed Hovan Tashjian who was our Hai Tad teacher take students who knew nothing about Artsakh and could care less about Armenia and teaching them all about Armenian History and Hai Tad and making them care! It’s about time Chamlian takes a look at why it’s not churning out properly learned students, but the more important question is are the schools succeeding in producing Hayrenaser graduates who are dedicated to staying involved in their communities. I agree with Myrna that establishing endowments and providing scholarships and incentives may increase our chances of enticing graduates of our Armenian schools to pursue careers in Armenian Studies.

  21. J. Margarian says:

    I grabbed a tablet and wrote down what I found were the most commonly used phrases in our house in the dominant language of the house my 2 yo and 4 yo live in. I started with just the first part of the day. I took the paper to the Armenian church where my 4 yo attends Armenian Saturday school, unfortunately every other weekend only. Lucky for us, a woman translated them into Western Armenian. So , I am starting a little document called, “Speak Armenian with your Kids!” It is targetted towards other families with small children in my situation who want to learn or re-learn with their young children in the rhythm and routine of the day, in context, with daily or at a minimum, weekly reinforcement and praxis. Now, in my case, the fluent speaker ( who knew 6 languages as a child pre-k ad his father 16, but the kindergarten held him back) who was my dominant father figure flat out _refused_ to teach his sons Armenian, or the other languages or our other dialect. But, I ended up due to timing and being raised largely by him as my father figure, in getting intensive fragments from cousins n summers and whatnot and along the way from songs. I pestered my grandfather when I lived wit him mercilessly, but he would ONLY speak when my stepgrandmother was not around (let’s not alienate or be “impolite” you know). It would go a _long_ way to have materials for families such as ours, where we are not in the center of a major diaspora and the parents learn or re-learn along with children from birth on up,or families with major economic hampers and contrictions. I am determined some how , some way, to lay the foundation or at least impact the language centers of the brain so my little sons will have some sort of Armenian language template in there! I know there is the virtual academy and one day we can make use of it, hopefully this year. And yes-Western Armenian first since 1) it is our heritage and an endangered language.It is _our _resistance to Oblivion and 2) My sons can go to ROA when older , or BA because Eastern is not endangered in the same way. Obviously in their 20’s, Ill be strongly suggesting BA, trip to ROA an to learn EA. Oh, and 3) Our songs are in Western Armenian, and I use , try to use, any Western Armenian language songs as a teaching tool and transmission. The most basic thing one can do is to help parents or suggest tools, tactics and techniques for language acquisition, retention and transmission.

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