Graduate Certificate in the Linguistics of a First Nations Language

The Graduate Certificate in the Linguistics of a First Nations Language offers training to students for careers as language researchers, educators, and material developers. Students gain expertise in communicative skills, language documentation and analysis of a particular First Nations language. Some cohorts will be entirely devoted to a single language (e.g. Hul’q’umi’num’), while others will be mixed-language cohorts focusing on work by individual students or groups of students on a particular language, but supplemented by material applicable to all the languages of the cohort (e.g. Xaad Kil, Secwepemctsin, and Tahltan). Emphasis will be placed on the language in its socio-cultural and educational setting. The learning model integrates Indigenous Ways of Knowing with linguistic analysis and documentation, featuring mentorship and participation in projects in addition to formal lectures and paper writing. Courses are taught by a team of Elders and knowledge holders and academic experts on the language.

The cohort programs will be offered on site in the First Nations language community, or through a combination of on-campus and community-based course modules. In order to accommodate the work schedules of participants who are language teachers in public schools, or who are otherwise fully employed, courses will be offered in late afternoons, evenings, during summer breaks.

Admission Requirements

Applicants will be required to meet the minimum University requirements for a Graduate Certificate as per GGR 1.3.2a. In addition, applicants must be fluent speakers of the language (as assessed by a panel of Elders); or be semi-fluent speakers who have completed the Certificate in First Nations Language Proficiency at SFU with a CGPA of at least 2.5. Also admissible are students who have completed a B.A. or B.Ed. and have studied both the language and some linguistics.  All applicants must provide a portfolio containing evidence of being a language specialist, providing examples of products created or projects completed, with role or contribution specified.

Under exceptional circumstances, individuals who have not completed a bachelor's degree with a CGPA of 2.5 may be considered for admission as per GGR 1.3.2.  In this situation, individuals MUST have significant experience and demonstrated expertise in working on the language in the community as a language specialist. This expertise MUST be demonstrated through: a) Academic writing: course papers, conference presentations, journal articles, research reports, proposal submissions, journals; b) Language materials: video and audio tapes, CD’s, DVD’s, lesson plans, curriculum, translations, transcriptions of taped interviews, stories or other materials produced in the language, transcriptions of taped interviews, reference materials; and c) Professional training: Description of mentorship or research assistantships with linguists, educators, anthropologists, ethnobotanists; workshops and conferences attended. Other pertinent information will be considered.

Program Requirements

Students complete at least four courses (16 units) of approved graduate coursework on linguistic methodology, the linguistic structure of a particular language, and the sociocultural or education setting of First Nations languages. Students must achieve a 2.5 CGPA in these courses to graduate.

Students must complete a minimum of 16 units from the following courses to be determined in consultation with their supervisory committee.

  • LING 804 – Field Methods (4)
  • LING 810 – Topics in Linguistics I (4): Phonetics and phonology of a First Nations language
  • LING 811 – Topics in Linguistics II (4): Morphology and syntax of a First Nations language
  • LING 812 – Topics in Linguistics III (4): Narrative and discourse structure of a First Nations language
  • LING 813 – Topics in Linguistics IV (4): Socio-cultural and cognitive aspects of a First Nations language
  • LING 855 – Topics in Applied Linguistics (4): Aspects of teaching and materials development for a First Nations Language

For more information, please contact:

Duncan cohort - Dr. Donna Gerdts

Burnaby cohort - Dr. Marianne Ignace