Language Nest Toolkit

February 1, 2023

Language Nest Toolkit

The Language Nest Toolkit is a collection of resources for language nest programs in First Nations communities. The toolkit is a companion resource to the Language Nest Handbook for B.C. First Nations Communities. While the handbook provides an overview of the language nest model, along with strategies for overcoming common challenges, the Language Nest Toolkit contains a variety of practical resources to help with the day-to-day running of a language nest, as well as information and links to Indigenous language immersion programs worldwide.  

This toolkit is intended as a starting point for finding resources and information; it is not a comprehensive list of every resource available. If you know of or have a language nest resource that you would like to see added to this toolkit, please contact

You can view and download the complete toolkit or explore the different sections and resources below.

Teaching Tools for Language Nests

This section includes a variety of activities, games, teaching tools and teaching methods to use in a language nest.

Resources for Administrators

The Resources for Administrators section includes tools such as licensing, schedule, job descriptions and other useful links and resources to utilize while pre-planning for a language nest program.

Program Planning for Language Nests

This section provides some useful tools to support the process of developing a language nest. Here you can find information on mission and vision statements and curriculum development.

Planning Resources

A Guide to Language Policy and Planning for B.C. First Nations Communities is a general guide for language planning in B.C., but many of the strategies and tools included in the guide will be useful for planning language nest programs. 

This Community Tool Box is a free, online resource for people working in communities. It was developed and is managed by the University of Kansas Center for Community Health and Development. While it is not specific to Indigenous or First Nations communities, it has some excellent information, resources and guidelines on planning and implementing community-based projects and initiatives. You may find Chapters 8 and 42 particularly useful when planning a language nest program.

Vision and Mission Statements for Language Nests

Find a great example of vision and mission statements for a language nest in the SENĆOŦEN LE,NOṈET SCUL,ÁUTW̱ (SENĆOŦEN Survival School) Parent Handbook. This handbook provides information for parents of children in the SENĆOŦEN language nest. 

We would like to add examples of vision and mission statements for language nests to help administrators, planners and community members develop their own statements. If you would like to share yours, please contact us at

Language Assessment

This section contains information on how to assess children’s language learning. It covers different assessment tools that are designed for Indigenous communities, as well as research on Indigenous learning assessment.

Language Nest Immersion Language Assessment

The Language Nest Immersion Assessment tool was adapted by FPCC from the Cherokee Preschool Immersion Language Assessment. Language nest staff can use this assessment to see how children in the language nest are progressing with their language learning, and it can also be used as an evaluation tool for the program. 

NEȾOLṈEW̱’s Language Assessment Tool

This language learning assessment tool was developed from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council–funded partnership project with the University of Victoria. This tool was developed for adults learning an Indigenous language, but it can be adapted to assess children’s language learning. The tool is available in both print and web versions. Click here to view the PDF.

The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A Holistic Approach to Measuring Success

Canadian Council on Learning, 2009 

The Canadian Council on Learning published this report as a way to outline the Holistic Lifelong Learning Measurement Framework. This framework was created to better highlight Indigenous learning in Canada. Three particularly relevant sections of the report include “Sources and Domains of Knowledge,” “The Lifelong Learning Journey,” and “Community Well-being Indicators.” 

Click here to read the report

Native Language Assessment

Interior Salish: Enduring Languages of the Columbian Plateau, (n.d.) 

This website contains many valuable resources that can be used to assess language learning. The website features a Language Assessment Handbook and checklists for speaking and listening, which are the focus of a language nest. Although the assessment may be more appropriate for older learners, it can be modified to suit the assessment of children. 

Click here to visit the website

Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

The “Digests” section of the CAL website offers access to a variety of research and short reports covering topics related to language learning, cultural orientation and linguistics. 

Click here to visit the website

Practical Ideas on Alternative Assessment for ESL Students

Jo-Ellen Tannenbaum, 1996 

This article from the CAL Digests offers many ideas for alternative assessment methods. Although it is written for second language English speakers, its advice may be suitable for a language nest setting as well. In particular, it offers some great suggestions for non-verbal assessment strategies, in other words, how to assess learning when the child understands more than they are able to say. 

Click here to read the article

Language Acquisition

The Language Acquisition section addresses the questions below and provides some additional readings.

  • What is language acquisition?
  • What do we know about language acquisition?
  • How does bilingualism affect children?

Immersion and Early Childhood Language Programs Worldwide

This section provides links to a variety of language nests, early childhood immersion programs and other Indigenous language programs in Canada and around the world.

Chief Atahm School 

The first language nest in B.C. began in the 1980s at what is now Chief Atahm School. The school is now a model for B.C. First Nations language immersion programming. 

T’selcéwtqen Clleqmél’ten 

Nk̓ʷusm Salish Language Institute 

This non-profit organization was founded in 2002 by four young Salish people hoping to revitalize their language. 

Nk̓ʷusm Salish Language Institute 

Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa 

Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) 

Kihew Waciston Cree Immersion School 

Mnidoo Mnising Anishinabek Kinoomaage Gaming (MMAK) 

Wicoie Nandagikendan Early Childhood Urban Immersion Program 

Ayaprun Elitnaurvik-Yup’ik Immersion School 

Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC) 

tsalagi tsunadeloquasdi 

Cherokee Nation 

See also the Kituwah Preservation & Education Program for other early childhood Cherokee immersion programs. 

Thunder Valley Lakota Immersion Childcare 

Social Media

Find and read more about some of these programs on social media, click here to see the full list.

Resources for Parents

This section provides resources and information to support parent involvement in language nests and in their child’s language learning, and to help families learn and speak their language in the home.

Languages for Life: Nourishing Indigenous Languages in the Home

First Peoples’ Cultural Council, 2019

This practical handbook was developed to support Indigenous families who want to learn and  speak their Indigenous languages together in the home. The handbook includes tips, strategies and resources for bringing Indigenous languages into the home on a daily basis. Resources include ideas for games and activities to make language learning fun, a template to create a family language plan and a worksheet to track your family language learning goals.

Click here to read the handbook

Kei Roto i te Whare: Māori Language in the Home

Te Puni Kökiri, 2008

This handbook is a useful guide for parents who want to speak their Indigenous language at home with their children. Learn about why it is important that Indigenous languages are spoken in the home, strategies for including more language into everyday activities and how to overcome common challenges.

Click here to read the handbook

Published Resources

This section includes an annotated bibliography of published articles and resources on language nests and other early-childhood immersion programs.

FPCC Resources

Language Nest Handbook 

The Language Nest Handbook is an excellent resource for early childhood language immersion programs. It outlines the vision and goals of the language nest model, summarizes research on language acquisition in young children and provides practical solutions to common challenges in running a language nest program. The handbook was developed by FPCC with support from the Chief Atahm School in Adams Lake, B.C., and it incorporates knowledge and experience from language nest program administrators and experts from around B.C. and worldwide. 

First Nations Language Nests: Your Guide to Operating a Successful Immersion Program for the Very Young

Chief Atahm School Curriculum Team, 2009 

This guide was developed for FPCC as a way to support language nests across B.C. This detailed guide walks you through an incredible amount of information on how to plan and run language nest programs. This is a must read! 

More Resources:

FPCC Resource Library 

FPCC produces a number of resources for communities. Here you can find Word and PDF files of a variety of publications. Click here to find more resources.

Funding Sources

This list identifies some of the funding opportunities that are available for language nest programs in B.C. Please note that each funding organization has individual application deadlines, as many are not open year round. 

First Peoples’ Cultural Council

See our Grant Funding page for information on all our funding opportunities.

British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development

The Ministry of Children and Family Development offers three funding programs to licensed child-care providers in B.C. 

Community Foundations of Canada (CFC)

CFC was founded in 1992 to represent community foundations across Canada. Community foundations work to build community vitality by offering long-term resources, funding and leadership. CFC provides an extensive list of community foundations across Canada. Here you can find links to your community foundation and see what grants they offer. 

Click here to visit the website

Farm Credit Canada (FCC): AgriSpirit Fund

FCC works to create positive changes in communities across Canada. The AgriSpirit Fund was created to support rural communities by enhancing quality of life. This fund is available to First Nations in cities of less than 150,000 people. Funding is given for capital projects, such as building infrastructure, and has been used to support child-care facilities in previous years. 

Click here to visit the website

First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

FNESC works to improve education for all First Nations students in B.C. The committee was formed in 1992 and consists of approximately 100 First Nations community representatives. FNESC offers grants to First Nations communities and schools to support language and culture teachers in professional development, classroom instruction or resource development. 

Click here to visit the website

New Relationship Trust (NRT)

NRT works to support First Nations in B.C. through capacity building in the following areas: governance, education, language and culture, youth and Elders, and economic development. Depending on the initiative, funding is offered to individuals, communities and organizations. Each initiative has its own eligibility requirements.

Click here to visit the website

Northern Health

Northern Health provides health support to northern communities in B.C. Grants are aimed at health promotion and disease/injury prevention. Many languages include health promotion in their programs through the inclusion of outdoor activities, physical activity and healthy meal/snack options. Northern Health has many grants that may be accessible to language nests looking to further promote health initiatives. Funds cannot be used to purchase food, but could be used in other ways. In particular, their Active Living grant aims to decrease sedentary lifestyles, which is often a goal of language nests that use activity in conjunction with language learning. 

Click here to visit the website

If you have questions about applying for the Pathways to Language Vitality program or about any of the resources in this toolkit, please reach out to for support.