Web site offers online Cherokee language courses

By Travis Snell
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee language courses are now available free to the public online at the Cherokee Nation Web site, www.cherokee.org.

The second class began June 3 and will continue for eight weeks from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. More classes are being planned, which may include evening classes, said Ben Phillips, Web site technician. Future schedules will be available on the Web site.

Class size is limited to 100 students per class, with an additional 50 allowed to sign up on a stand-by list.

“Those who do not make this class from the stand-by list will be the first notified for the next classes available,” said Tonia Williams, Cherokee Nation webmaster.

“If an individual misses a class, they will be able to view the video and see each lesson because we will archive each class,” Phillips said.

Phillips said the first course with 14 students was recently completed.

“It’s part of that push of the chief’s (Chad Smith) to get the language out there,” Phillips said. “Anybody who has a computer and an Internet connection can take it.”

The class is being taught by fluent Cherokee instructors from the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center and Cherokee communities.

Lessons begin with basic Cherokee vocabulary and pronounciation. Video, slides, discussions and quizzes are used for interaction between the students and instructors.

The goal at the end of the eight weeks is for students to build basic sentences in Cherokee at the end of the eight weeks.

Anna Huckaby, language training coordinator for the Cultural Resource Center said, “The highest point for me was when I heard the students putting their own words together and making phrases. That was great.”

“One of the missions of the Cherokee Nation Web site is to provide information, education, as well as preserving and assisting in the revitalization of the Cherokee history, culture and language,” Williams said. “We hope that this teaching tool will provide a new and exciting user experience while learning the Cherokee language.”

Phillips said students would need to have an Internet connection of 56K or more, a later version of Windows Media Player and a later version Shockwave to take the course. The Windows Media Player and Shockwave software can be downloaded from the Internet for free, he said. The software allows students and teachers to see and hear each other and ask questions via live-stream video. Students would also need to download reference material such as the Cherokee syllabary and archived lessons from the Cherokee Web site.

“We usually start about 15 minutes before the scheduled class so it gives the students a chance to log in and chat amongst themselves, get familiar with each other,” Phillips said. Volunteer teachers for the course include Huckaby, John Ross, Ed Jumper, Ed Fields, Marilyn Cochran, George Byrd and Dennis Sixkiller. For more information, e-mail webmaster@cherokee.org.

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