BILLINGS — A Billings elementary school teacher is enriching her class by teaching students Apsaalooke, or Crow, language in her second-grade classroom.
Ms. Leslie TalksDifferent has a class seven certification to teach Apsaalooke language. She is a member of the Crow Nation.
“There was one day I was talking crow to the kids and they’re like, what is that, what are you saying?” Ms. TalksDifferent said.
Her class at Poly Drive Elementary is diving right into learning it for themselves.
Here’s how to say, ‘my name is:’
“Bah-lah-jah…then they say their name...hook…like ‘it is,’ she said.
“I think it's important that they learn the Crow language because it broadens their horizons. It broadens their curiosity. Also, it closes that gap, that diversity gap, that cultural gap,” she said.
She’s pushing back against the declining number of fluent Apsaalooke speakers.
“We are losing our language, and its really important that we are bringing it back, whether their Crow or non-Crow,” Ms. TalksDifferent said.
This class is up for the challenge.
“Most of the sounds are the same, but they, there’s some letters they don’t use, some words they don’t use, it's really interesting,” said 8-year-old Sawyer Weaver.
The lesson doesn’t stop at the classroom door.
“Oh they love it. the parents wanted me to share on seesaw how to phonetically say the words,” said Ms. TalksDifferent.
For students, or for Ms. TalksDifferent.
“I’m also learning different language because our class is a diverse class. I have some Koreans, I have a range of Hispanic students. So, they are also teaching me their language. It’s like a big push for some of the families and the community to learn another language,” she said.
The students have some advice if you’re interested in picking up another language.
“It's really cool, and it's exciting to learn,” said 8-year-old Callen Thayer.
“It was a little hard starting off, but now that we’re used to it and we’re learning new words it's really fun,” said 7-year-old Isabelle Berrett.
To learn more about efforts to preserve Apsaalooke language, check out this story.