First Nations Languages: Reading Comprehension
Read the story and answer the questions.
Spread the Word: First Nations Languages in British Columbia
The land we now call British Columbia is home to more First Nations languages than any other part of Canada. About 32 First Nations languages are spoken here. But many of these languages are at risk. For example, there are now fewer than 10 people who can speak the language of the Skwomesh Nation. Most of the speakers are over the age of 65.
There is a young man named Khelsilem Rivers. Khelsilem is 24 years old. He has learned the Skwomesh language. He spends much of his time working to keep the Skwomesh language alive. Khelsilem lives in a house with other young people who want to speak their traditional language every day.
Why is language so important? Language is how we practice our culture. We share our stories, our songs, our history, and our teachings through language. Language is part of our identity. People in our families who were alive before us are called our ancestors. Language connects us to our ancestors. Knowing our language helps us be healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
Skwomesh is one of the aboriginal languages in British Columbia that is at risk. This means that the Skwomesh language could be lost forever. It could be lost forever because no one will ever speak Skwomesh again. Native people are now being helped by university departments to help preserve their languages. In the past, many Canadians did not respect aboriginal languages and this was wrong. Hopefully, in the future, native people like Khelsilem Rivers will keep the Skwomesh, and many other native languages alive. This will help Canada’s aboriginal peoples preserve their culture.
Story by Shantel Ivits at BC Open Textbooks
Story adapted under Creative Commons license
Adaptations and exercises by Douglas Rodger, English Language Centre
Audio version performed by Cam Culham, English Language Centre
Photo: Acwsalcta School in Bella Bella, British Columbia from Central Coast Regional District is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.
How many First Nations Languages are there in British Columbia?
- Nobody knows
What do you think "at risk" means?
- not interesting
- "in danger" / something that could be lost forever
Who is Khelsilem Rivers?
- He is a teacher.
- He is a leader in the Skwomesh First Nation.
- He is a father.
- He is a young man trying very hard to save the Skwomesh native language.
Who does Khelsilem Rivers live with?
- He lives with his parents.
- He lives with other people who really want to learn and speak the Skwomesh language.
- He lives alone.
- He lives with his children.
Why does the reading tell us that language is important?
- It can help us get a good job.
- Language can help us make friends.
- Learning languges makes people smarter.
- Language is important because of our history, our culture, and our ancestors.
What could happen to the Skwomesh language?
- It will become more popular.
- The sound system of the languge could change.
- It could be lost forever.
- Professors could teach Skwomesh in universities.
What did many Canadians do to aboriginal peoples and their languages in the past?
- Canadians did not show respect for native peoples and their languages.
- They helped to preserve the aboriginal languages.
- Canadians were respectful of native languages.
- Canadians helped aboriginal people record their languages in the English alphabet.
What will be the best thing for the Skwomesh language?
- It will die out.
- It will be preserved and many more young people will learn the Skwomesh language.
- A few people will learn Skwomesh.
- It will be taught in universities.