EPISODE 23: “WHERE ARE YOUR KEYS?”: an Interview with Evan Gardner

[Please note: after a couple of years working with Evan Gardner, in 2011 I left our partnership and am now working on the Language Hunters project with a gifted team of new colleagues. Please check out the ebook the Language Hunter’s Kit, and the language hunters youtube channel with loads of free language game videos and help us build this emerging community!]

I promised this podcast to some very supportive folks, so I will post it. But just give me a second here.

Evan Gardner addresses some pretty big stuff in this interview. Big stuff. “Where Are Your Keys?” covers far more than you think. You’ll need to really listen closely, and perhaps multiple times, to catch it all (and we haven’t even made Part Two yet!). When he talks about the emerging role of the Language Savior in revivifying indigenous languages, or the Twenty Language Child, or the emerging cultures of WAYK-style teachers, really think about what this means. As a mentor and self-identified “coyote teacher” myself, this has got me looking at and reexamining everything in my toolkit, and seeing a whole ‘nother side of the rewilding renaissance; a rebirth and revisioning of coyote mentoring culture itself.

I think I have a new motto. “WAYK UP AND LEARN, REWILDERS!”. Enough of schooling; let’s truly take back our own ability to learn anything in the world, as easily and quickly as playing a game!

The original podcast description, for new folks:

“Where are Your Keys?”

Evan Gardner, who rewilds in Molalla, OR, has made a breakthrough. But does anyone even feel ready for it? Over a period of years, he pieced together all the most effective language-learning techniques into one, seamless whole; a game called “Where are Your Keys”.

Everyone knows about the epidemic of endangered indigenous languages, all over the world, and yet linguists and teachers continue to use old, academic and schooling methods, that for those many of us who studied foreign languages in school and college, we know they don’t work. We never achieved fluency, and we struggled to learn them. For those that did gain some mastery of their chosen language, they did it by actually traveling to its home and immersing themselves in the culture.

But how do we do that for languages on the edge of extinction, with one 90 year-old fluent speaker left? How do we create the experience of immersion, as best we can?

Evan has the answer. So far, he has struggled with getting the message out there. Since “Where are Your Keys?”, by its very nature, creates not students, but Teachers, he knows in only a matter of time the game will spread like wildfire, as Teachers make more Teachers. But will it happen in time to save the endangered native languages where you live?

Rewild Camp with Urban Scout

Chinuk Wawa at the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde

American Council on the Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Testing

Agile Teamwork

Revitalizing Your Language, by Leanne Hinton

A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander

Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School

The Rosetta Stone

Early Adopters

Written by Willem