I ola ka 'olelo i na keiki: Ka 'apo 'ia 'ana o ka 'olelo Hawai'i e na keiki ma ke Kula Kaiapuni
This study was undertaken to investigate the effectiveness of the Kula Kaiapuni (Hawaiian Immersion Program) in transmitting the Hawaiian language to a new generation of children in a predominantly academic setting, the school. This attempt at linguistic and cultural regenesis is difficult since (1) Hawaiian is largely inaccessible in the general community and families themselves, (2) the Kula Kaiapuni teachers are L2 speakers of Hawaiian, and (3) there is a lack of Hawaiian printed materials in school and in the general community.
As the first systematic study of the Hawaiian of the children in the Kula Kaiapuni, this investigation focused on fundamental aspects of Hawaiian syntax which are linguistically distant from their corresponding features in English and its local variant, Hawai'i Creole English, the L1 of most of the children. The study was longitudinal and examined oral speech data of children from each of the first five cohorts (grades K through 4) at one school over two years. The data, primarily from oral semi-structured interviews, were audio-taped, transcribed onto computer, analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods, and compared with similar data from adult native speakers.
Findings indicated that the children were near the levels of conventional use found for the native speaker group for the majority of the fundamental aspects of Hawaiian syntax examined, and were above the group-acquisition criterion of 90%. Furthermore, their nonconventional uses were largely systematic in nature, reflecting the use of prior knowledge (experience including L2, but dominated by L1) as a major strategy employed in learning Hawaiian (related to substrate L1 transfer). In this process, children sometimes created new structures, and regularize perceived irregularities (aspects) of Hawaiian via the overgeneralization of certain rules, often surfacing as Hawaiian (near-) equivalents of English expression.
Overall, the children are functionally proficient and conventional in many aspects of Hawaiian. This study may help immersion teachers better understand the children's nonconventional but systematic use of Hawaiian and assist them in developing and altering the immersion experience for the long-term goals of language regenesis. This study may also have program implications for Polynesian and other minority-language advocates with respect to program design and strategies for language regenesis.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0282: Multicultural education
0279: Language arts
0631: Minority & ethnic groups