Language Nests

“That’s the best way to teach them when they’re little. You know why? Because it’s in their blood.”

– Janet Vance

Tāłtān speaker Nālō (Mary Quock) and tseskiye (crow) puppet talk with Krae, a child in Dẕimes Chō T’oh in Łuwechon (Iskut).

The Tāłtān Language Nest program targets our 0-4-year-olds in a full Tāłtān-immersion setting within the communities of Iskut, Dease Lake and soon-to-be Telegraph Creek. ­­ Next to the natural option of raising children at home in the language, immersion practices are the most effective method for creating fluent language speakers in a short time period (Hinton, 2001; Lee, 1996). Language nest programs began in Aotearoa (New Zealand) by the Maori people over 20 years ago. They are preschool childcare programs run entirely in an Indigenous language without the use of a dominant language such as English.

The first nest to open in Tahltan Territory was in Iskut, Dzimēs Chō T’oh in May 2014. Then in December 2014, K’asba’e T’oh opened in Dease Lake.

The Nests operate as a home setting to give the children access to everyday spoken language.  Activities range from caregiving (snacks, mealtime, naps, etc.), playtime, and reading books to playground activities and going for walks.

This program encourages parents to learn the language as well by teaching them basic phases to interact with their children at home.

What is Immersion?

‘Immersion’ is a method used to teach a language in situations where only the target language is used in an everyday context. In essence, a person (child or adult) is immersed in the target language as the only means of spoken communication and therefore has no choice but to learn to understand and speak this language.

“Early childhood is the prime time to teach language. The younger we can teach language, the more it acts like it’s a first language.” – Administrator, Secwepmec Nation.

Odelia Dennis and mentor Theresa Etzerza tell a story in Tāłtān to edōne in K’asba’e T’oh (Dease Lake Nest)


Iskut Language Nest

In Tāłtān, the Swainson’s thrush is called Dẕimēs chō; and t’oh means ‘nest’. Our Elders have told us that this is the only bird that we know of that moves the location of its nest and eggs to protect its young from predators. It’s a very unique bird in our area and that is why its name translates to “big bird” in English.

Dzimēs Chō T’oh has one or two fluent speakers and one caregiver present at all times during the day operating typically Mon-Friday, from 9 am until 12:00 pm.

For more information, contact Iskut Language and Culture Coordinator, Patricia Louie at or stop by the Iskut Language House (Lot #35) with your child to speak to one of the members of our Tahltan Language Revitalization team and find out more about our Language Nest program. Share your input or suggestions with us regarding the Language Nest and how you would like to see this happen.

If you are interested in having your child attend Dzimēs Chō T’oh, make sure you get a copy of the intake application form from the Iskut Band Office, Iskut Valley Health Centre or Family Place. Stay updated on other language revitalization efforts within our communities.


Dease Lake Language Nest

K’asba’e T’oh is Tāłtān for ’Ptarmigan nest’.  K’asba’e T’oh has one or two fluent speakers and one caregiver present at all times during the day operating 4 days per week, from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm Tuesday -Thursday, and 9-12 on Fridays.  For more information, contact the Language and Culture Community Manager, Odelia Dennis at

Telegraph Language Nest

Coming soon!  Contact Pauline Hawkins at if you’re interested in having your child attend.