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In Taiwan, getting immersed in Amis, not Mandarin

August 4, 2020

Established last September, Luma Association Amis-language immersion preschool in Hualien teaches Aboriginal children traditional skills in their mother tongue in a bid to preserve their culture

  • By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

With most of his village preferring to converse in Mandarin, opportunities are scant for 81-year-old Kacaw to use his mother language of Amis. But things are changing in his household — one day the family was having an animated discussion when his plucky four-year-old granddaughter Nikal bursts into the room: “You should talk in the mother tongue,” she tells them loudly in Amis.

Another time, Nikal’s uncle Yosifu, a well-known artist, overheard her arguing with her grandmother over rights to the television remote — “in our mother tongue,” he tells me excitedly.

“With such visible change, I can see hope now,” Yosifu says. “My dad is the happiest one. Out of his grandchildren, only Nikal can speak any Amis. This is so important. When a language is no longer spoken, the lifeline of an entire culture is cut off.”

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