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Tséhootsooí Diné Bi'ólta' Navajo Immersion School

Fort Defiance, AZ

imgBahe Spruhan, the six year old boy in the video clip here with his grandmother, is a first grader at Tséhootsooí Diné Bi'ólta', a Navajo language immersion school for grades K-8 in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Located on the Arizona-New Mexico border in the southeastern quarter of the massive Navajo Nation Reservation, the school strives to revitalize the Diné, or Navajo, language among children of the Window Rock Unified School District by providing a high-quality standards-based education taught largely in Diné. The school’s goal is to provide children with an education that will assure them of success in a multicultural world, teaching Diné language and culture while helping students to become proficient English speakers.

Tséhootsooí Diné Bi'ólta' has thirteen Diné language teachers who instruct only in the Diné language while five English language teachers instruct in the English language. Kindergarten and first grade are taught completely in the Navajo language, while English is incorporated into the program during third grade, when it is used for about 10 percent of instruction. Each year, the use of English is increased so that by graduation, students can move smoothly into the area’s charter, public, parochial, or tribal high schools.

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Did You Know ...

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American governed territory in the United States, covering 27,425 square miles in three states: Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Navajo language, Diné, is a member of a language family that linguists call Nadene (previously called the Athabascan languages), and is very distantly related to neighboring Apache languages as well as northern Nadene languages such as Ahtna and Eyak on the Alaskan coast.

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