Sing/calligraphy to cover a Chinese song.

For this video, I sang a Chinese song by the famous rock musician Xu Wei and practiced the written lyrics as well (watch the video and it will make sense).  Such a beautiful song–working on this was a mini-vacation!

The format for the video is essentially what I previously described as fingerprint karaoke, either for a song or for quotes (i.e. here or here). Somehow I like this format of bringing different elements (i.e. oral/written) together for a practice project.  I think I’ll keep playing around with this idea.

ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ : peyak isko mitâtaht (Cree:1-10)

Learning to count to ten in Cree

I found Brian MacDonald’s cd (Onion Lake, SK) in the Edmonton Public Library (  The music cd “For the Generations” and lyric booklet is part of their Cree Family Language kit; this song is called “The Number Song” and my son and I listened to it to learn the Nêhiyawêwin Cree numbers from 1-10.  This was a fun way for us to spend a Saturday when my wife was called in to work.  The syllabics below were generated using the Maskwacis Plains Cree Syllabic Converter on the Online Cree Dictionary site.

I don’t know how many mistakes (spelling, etc.) we made, but that’s how it works, doesn’t it? We gave it a go and now it’s now a song that we can sing sometimes to try and keep it fresh, and we can revisit it at some point in the future.

  1. peyak  ᐯᔭᐠ
  2. nîso  ᓃᓱ
  3. nisto  ᓂᐢᑐ
  4. newo  ᓀᐅᐧ
  5. nîyânan  ᓃᔮᓇᐣ
  6. nikotwâsik  ᓂᑯᑖᐧᓯᐠ 
  7. (ekwa) têpakohp  (ᐁᑲᐧ) ᑌᐸᑯᐦᑊ  
  8. ayinânew  ᐊᔨᓈᓀᐤ
  9. kêkâ-mitâtaht  ᑫᑳ ᒥᑖᑕᐦᐟ
  10. (mina) mitataht  (ᒥᓇ) ᒥᑕᑕᐦᐟ

êkota isko nitakihcikān  ᐁᑯᑕ ᐃᐢᑯ ᓂᑕᑭᐦᒋᑳᐣ  (“this is how far I’m counting”—thanks to RQ for translation!)

Muffins for Granny— Residential School Legacy in Canada

I just watched Muffins for Granny, an extremely powerful documentary film consisting of interviews with seven elders who were survivors of residential schools in Canada.  (available at Edmonton Public Library).  Every time I learn more about this part of Canadian history, I feel an ever-deepening sense of sadness and disbelief that our government deliberately set out in this direction for so long.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued their final report earlier this summer; watching this documentary, it strikes me that “Truth” definitely does need to come before “Reconciliation”—as a non-aboriginal, I’m probably not alone in feeling a need to learn so much more about the history of my own country, and how much of it continues to repeat and evolve into more phenomena that should horrify every citizen.

“Residential schools also known as industrial or boarding schools refer to a variety of institutions which have existed in Canada. The schools were established to assimilate Aboriginal children into white society. Aboriginal children were discouraged from speaking their own language and practicing their native traditions or else suffer punishment. Beyond the emotional abuse of being taken from their families, many children experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. Estimates show that 24 to 42 per cent of children in some schools died of tuberculosis infection. By learning English and adopting Christianity and Canadian customs, the government hoped that the children would pass their adopted lifestyle on to the next generation and native traditions would be abolished in a few generations. “(pdf intro)

CBC Radio Interview:

I Am a Native American Woman With White Privilege


solid (and very brave) perspective on a complex issue; privilege in general can be an elusive topic to discuss.

Originally posted on Misty Has A Blog:

Note from the author: This blog uses the term “white privilege.” The correct term is “white-passing privilege.” Please note that white-passing privilege is what I am referring to in this blog. 

First off, I think it’s important to say that I do not, and have not ever primarily identified as white. On my mother’s side, I’m Native American, enrolled in

ghostmy Tribe, and, to a large extent, raised in my culture. I was born on the reservation and lived on or near reservations for much of my life. Indigenous cultural signifiers are important to me – I love Coastal designs and canoes. I love to eat Salmon, attend gatherings, and socialize at potlatches or powwows. However, due to genetics (while both my grandparents on my mother’s side are Indigenous, my grandmother is light-skinned, and my grandfather, of mixed ancestry) it so happens that I am light. Like, really light. Light…

View original 1,199 more words

Language Learning Quotes

I’ve been playing with this “fingerpaint karaoke” idea some more and got my son to read one of my favourite quotes about languages and language learning.  I love the quote, but hearing my son reading it makes it even sweeter.   I’m not so obsessed with the idea of teaching him many languages, but I’ll be delighted if he can grow up with an appreciation of what Wade Davis describes in this quote.

If you would like to hear the original, the quote here is taken from two parts of this TED talk, but he’s expressed these ideas in many interviews and lectures (a message definitely worth repeating!)

Fingerpaint Karaoke–“夜空中最亮的星“ by 逃跑计划

It’s father’s day today, so I indulged myself with some hobby time and finally finished this video.  I had the idea for “Fingerpaint Karaoke” ages ago– in another iteration, I called it “Whiteboard Karaoke”, which is a lot cleaner, but certainly not as fun:)   This is was also an idea that gained momentum when I was thinking of ways to introduce my son to language learning in light/fun ways.

When it comes to Mandarin, what I need most is practice with writing, so I thought this might be a fun way to do something different.  Most of the strategies using music for language study are driven toward the speaking/singing part of things, so the idea of using music to fuel writing practice might not be an intuitive one.  I tried to find other examples of this online, but I don’t think I’m using the right keywords– if anyone knows of something, can you leave a comment with a link?

Through this project, I learned the correct stroke order for several characters; however, like regular karaoke, step one is “learning the song”, and then continuing to practice and have fun with it— the nice part about fingerpaint/whiteboard/doodle karaoke is I can really do it anywhere: just try and recall the lyrics and see if I can recall the characters.

As for the song— wow!  as soon as I heard “夜空中最亮的星“, I knew it would be a great campfire song and wanted to learn how to play it. I can’t sing as high as the original version, so my guitar is tuned down a step. 逃跑计划 (Escape Plan) have got quite a few good songs that are worth checking out!