21 A Trip of the Tongue

British Columbia
British Columbia
Julie Flett British Columbia

Julie Flett is the recipient of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize and a nominee for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her book Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet (L’alfabet di Michif). Her new book is Wild Berries. Flett is Cree- Métis and lives in Vancouver. Read more

Jude Isabella British Columbia

Jude Isabella has spent more than a decade as the managing editor of YES Mag: The Science Magazine for Adventurous Minds and writes science books for kids. Her book Fantastic Feats and Failures won the American Institute of Physics award for writing in the children’s category. Her new book is Chitchat: Celebrating the World’s Languages. @judeisabella Read more

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Improv Centre
$17 / $8.50 for school groups

How many different languages are spoken in your classroom? Eight? Ten? This afternoon, artist and writer Julie Flett introduces you to the language of her grandmother—Cree— complete with a pronunciation guide to help with some of the tongue-twisty vocabulary in her book Wild Berries. Well-known science writer Jude Isabella turns her attention to how languages—spoken, written and sign—originate and change over time. Her new book, Chitchat, looks at everything from monkey talk to lost languages and the newest human languages. Language is so much more than just words, isn’t it? It shapes us, defines us and carries our culture and history.

Suitable for grades 3–6

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View the study guide for this event.

A Trip of the Tongue


Julie Flett, Wild Berries
Jude Isabella, Chitchat

Curriculum Connections:

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies: First Nations and history
  • Cultural Studies
  • Ethnic Diversity


  • Arrange the class into groups of four. Give each group one of the books to read. Have each group together read their book aloud. Ask them to list any culturally specific words found in the texts as they read.
  • Tell the groups to prepare to present these words to the whole group. They should focus on any positive or negative connotations associated with these words as well as with their definitions.
    Let each group take turns presenting their vocabulary words.
  • Return students to their groups with the same books as they had the day before to discuss some of the differences they can find between our dominant culture and the culture represented in the story.
  • Have the students choose something in their book that is unique to that culture and create a presentation that promotes understanding and respect for that cultural attribute or behaviour.  Students should plan their presentation as an advertisement for TV, radio, a magazine, or YouTube.
  • For closure, meet in a community circle and discuss the concepts ethnocentrism and cultural diffusion.

    Ethnocentrism: the attitude that one's own culture is superior to any other culture.
    Cultural diffusion: the spread of ideas from one culture to another.