Learn Cree: The Foundations

Hello classmates,

As you have seen in my previous post and on my twitter feed, I have decided to learn Cree for my ECI 831 Learning Project. This post is going to be about my learning process so far. I am going to write about the approach that I have decided to take, the things that I have learned, and what steps I plan to take to further my learning.

First of all, I am going to write about the approach that I have decided to take to learn Cree. As mentioned, I have acquired a second language before (Spanish). I began learning Spanish in high school and then continued studying in University. It was an academic approach to learning the language. By that, I mean that I studied in a textbook before I had an immersion experience. I found it helpful to have a base of the language before I engaged in an immersion experience. As this is the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) approach that I am most familiar with, I decided to take the same approach to learning Cree.

Before the actual language acquisition process began I wanted to become more familiar with the regions and origins of the Cree language. Like with many other languages, Cree has different regional dialects.

Cree Dialects

I took this screenshot from www.creeculture.ca.

 I like it because it provides a visual for the different dialects of Cree that are spoken different regions. My learning will focus on Plans Cree as that is the most prominent in our region in Saskatchewan.



After becoming more familiar with regional dialects, I began working on familiarizing myself with the letters and the sounds. The Online Cree Dictionary is one of the first places that I started to look for learning resources.

Check out my screencast for more information about The Online Cree dictionary here:


Once I became more familiar with some of the sounds and the vowels I began to look for resources on basic Cree words such as greetings and introductions. I met Bill Cook on Twitter. He is a Cree instructor at FNU.


Image via: USV.com

He sent me a link to his Quizlet.

This was the first time that I had the opportunity to interact with this technology. I must say that I enjoyed using the tool as a learner and I could see it being a great tool, in particular for learning a language. The Quizlet that I began with was the one for introductions.

I loved that I had the chance to hear the words. I know that pronunciation is going to be one of my biggest challenges so it was good to have the model.

So far, I have acquired the vocabulary for the following basic greetings and introductions:

Hello: Tānsi

My name is Colleen: Colleen nisthihkāson (Ni means “Me” and thihkāson means “to be called”)

What is your name?: tānsi kisithihkāson(Ki means “you” and then the root of thihkāson meaning “to be called”)

I know that this doesn’t seem like a lot but it has taken me time to get adjusted to the sounds, the roots of the words and the subject pronouns to be able to understand the words.

This YouTube video was where I learned the subject pronouns:


My goals for my next step in the learning process is to move to asking questions such as “what is your name?” and “where are you from?” I will have to figure out how the who/what/when/where/why questions are formed and then try to understand the structure of the sentences.

Also, I would like to expand my vocabulary. I am going to look for common words such as household items and family members to add to my vocabulary.

Wish me luck!



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12 Responses to Learn Cree: The Foundations

  1. Joe says:

    Hey Colleen!

    I like the way you went about familiarizing yourself with background information on the language before diving right in. It seems like a very adult way to learn language, so to speak. We can’t just absorb language as we might have been able to as kids. But you’re generating all kinds of meaning and building a foundation that, I bet, will pay off down the road.

    I’ll be paying attention! 🙂



    • strauchc says:

      Thanks Joe! You are totally right! Kids have a totally different approach to language acquisition. The younger they learn the better! I know that a foundation will be necessary for me as a learner. I am also interested in the foundations of language. I think it is a really interesting subject so that helps:) Thanks for following!


  2. The Caring Educator says:

    My students love Quizlet as well. And I love watching your progress! I will never forget your reason to learn Cree… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • strauchc says:

      I am definitely going to get into making a Quizlet! Nice to know that you use it too and that you enjoy it. What types of activities do you do with it? Thanks for the encouragement 🙂


  3. Great work so far Colleen! I am familiar with Tansi, my children and I learned that during Cree Circle at the Regina Early Learning Center at Dr. Hanna this summer. The facilitator introduces basic words with a song and then reads a children’s book. I really appreciate your comment that learning a language really gives you insight into the culture – the imagery in the children’s books, not to mention the activities they were engaging in, was really fascinating to us.

    Good luck with your journey, I look forward to following you.


  4. Hi Colleen,this is really an interesting language and i am having good time learning a new language,I know four different languages which i can use fluently and learning cree will add another language in my list,i learnt “Sapna nisthikāson”,looking forward for your next post and by the end of this course probablyI would have learned another language ,thanks to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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