Playing Scrabble in Chipewyan: New game helps teach language
'All the students that want to learn their language, please do. It's very exciting'
If you think using the letter Q to nab a triple-word score is tough enough in English, try playing Scrabble in Chipewyan.
Over the past year, he's developed "Scramble" or Ɂëk'éch'a Helá, a Chipewyan version of the popular word game. And he's bringing it into his classroom at Paul William Kaeser High School as a teaching tool.
"This is an opportunity for us to take a game and translate it into a language so the kids can learn the language," says Boucher.
"We've been playing it already. It's part of my activities during my lessons, I do that with the Grade 12s and I'm going to be starting to do that with my Grade 10s."
Scrabble v. Scramble
There is a slight difference between Scramble and its near-namesake. In Scrabble, you're meant to avoid the dictionary until someone throws down a challenge. In Scramble, the whole idea is to comb through the dictionary for possible words.
"It's twofold for me: they're getting to know how to use the resources we have, like the dictionaries... [and they're] getting to use the lessons — what I taught them and the words that they've learned," says Boucher.
Boucher says along with students, he'd also love to see his game played by fluent Chipewyan speakers.
"One of my dreams is getting two people like that to play and watch them. That would be super, and for the kids to watch them, that would be even better. Because then they'll know we can do this."
More games to come
Boucher is working with students to develop other games in Chipewyan, although he says he'll wait for them to announce the games so he doesn't steal their thunder.
"One of them is just about done. And again it's involving the students and involving sentence structures, it's involving them using the tools that we have for them to learn the language," says Boucher
As for his own game?
"I dedicate it to all the students here. And all the students that want to learn their language, please do. It's very exciting, because [the languages are] so ancient, and to find the meaning of it: the history of our people are there."
with files from Loren McGinnis