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  • Andrea Custer

Cree as a First Language


tânisi, meet my son Andrew kîwîtin ahcâhk. He is currently nine (9) months old. We are teaching him Cree as his first language by using the natural method of language acquisition. This theory states that if we continually expose him to Cree, he will learn it naturally. He's not speaking just yet but I know that he's picking up the phonemes of our language, he's picking up grammar rules naturally and building his vocabulary. Eventually, the goal is for him to speak and understand Cree as his first language for the first few years.


Before he was born, I spoke to him in Cree, I also put Cree recordings on my belly. At birth, he was welcomed by family and they spoke to him in Cree. At home, I ordered Darlene's Augers Cree Lullabies so that he could listen to Cree as he slept. Both Dad and I always make sure that we ONLY speak Cree to him during whatever activity we are doing with him. We also listen to Cree through a variety of YouTube videos and it seems he has his favourites because he'll try and dance to them. He also has toys of animals that he hears around him and we teach him action words that we would associate with it. i.e. "The duck is calling." "Call him back."


Having him eat food from the land is also important for me personally. I want him to appreciate and enjoy wild food, so he's been eating moose, duck and fish since he's been able to eat solid foods!


Sometimes when we have visitors they'll speak English to him. I ask that fluent speakers talk to him in Cree. That can get frustrating but we are all so used to speaking English that we have to make a conscious effort to stay in the language.


I'm included some of the videos that I've captured here - I hope you enjoy them and get ideas for teaching language in your home as well.









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