Language skills
Keeping Inuktitut strong

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Feb 09/00) - For Rankin Inlet's Angie Kubluitok, life as an Inuktitut instructor at the Adult Community Learning Centre is both challenging and rewarding.

Kubluitok has been teaching Inuktitut reading and writing skills for about 30 months now.

This year, she has a class of 15 full-time students ranging in age from their late 20s to late 30s.

She says this marks the first semester in quite some time that there are more males than females in the class.

"When the adult basic education students first come to my Inuktitut class, they know the very basics of syllabics and some Roman orthography," explains Kubluitok.

"I will start them off with some very basic work in both and then observe my students much the same way a hockey coach would evaluate his or her players.

"From there, I will start to present them with more challenging work."

Kubluitok says her course usually runs about six months, although the class did lose some time this year due to a delay in funding.

As her students progress with their work, Kubluitok says she sees their confidence building and their enthusiasm growing.

"I am very happy when I see they recognize the difference in the syllabic writing, especially when they put their finds (smaller symbols in a word) in the right places."

More and more Inuit are realizing they have to be able to read and write Inuktitut and/or Roman orthography to be successful in the job market, says Kubluitok.

And, she adds, she never misses an opportunity to point out the cultural benefits as well.

"I try to emphasize every time we have Inuktitut classes how important it is for us to learn and know our language.

"We must learn and effectively use it if Inuktitut is to survive.

"I feel like I'm doing my part in a small way."

In fact, it was continually noticing mistakes in Inuktitut posters and other publications around the hamlet which first inspired Kubluitok to take on teaching.

A job, she says, made easier with students determined to learn.

"My students this year are very motivated in learning Inuktitut, which makes my job easier.

"When they're this motivated, I really look forward to teaching each class."