CILLDI was inspired by its American counterpart, the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), run by the University of Arizona for the past 30 years. The idea for both Institutes springs largely from the recognition that Aboriginal languages––many of which face extinction––can only be preserved by the speakers themselves. Both Institutes view themselves as having an integral part to play in these preservation efforts. The overarching goal of AILDI and CILLDI is to provide opportunities for those interested in the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages to extend their professional growth as they take on the challenge of saving their languages.
In month-long sessions held each June in Tucson, Arizona, AILDI participants can take a variety of linguistic and education courses with an Aboriginal language focus. AILDI usually hosts about a hundred students. Over the course of three or four summers, a BEd or an MEd can be earned through AILDI since it is affiliated with the Faculty of Education at the University of Arizona and deliberately offers courses which can lead directly to a degree. AILDI attracts Indigenous language speakers and educators from all over North America and from Central and South America as well.
The need for a comparable centre of Indigenous language support is just as great in Canada. CILLDI has the potential to become the recognized Canadian alternative to students who don’t wish or can’t afford to travel to the United States to participate. Moreover, it draws upon a larger student base, as the number of proficient speakers of Aboriginal languages is higher here. CILLDI departs from its American model in being dedicated to improving native language proficiency and literacy by delivering courses on two tiers: language-specific language courses and cross-linguistic courses on language education.
For more information on AILDI, please visit: http://aildi.arizona.edu/