Bemidji High School Students Make It Easy To Learn Ojibwe By Adding QR Codes Around School
Six students from Billy Copenace’s Ojibwe language class at Bemidji High School wanted to do something about reviving the Ojibwe language.
“Not that many people are very fluent in it that much anymore,” Bemidji High School freshman Josephine Aitken said. “So I think the purpose of this QR code project was to make our language a little more known.”
The school already has existing Ojibwe signs around the building near bathrooms, offices and classrooms. When Copenace’s students pitched the idea to their teacher, he said it was one of the best ideas he’s ever heard.
“We’ve never had that here, we put up Ojibwe signs, but that was it. Nobody really knew how to pronounce them and we thought if we could do that, that’s one step to using technology to revitalize our language,” Copenace said.
The students recorded and edited the video of themselves speaking the words for each sign. The project took them about four days to complete.
“We’re trying to help teach the language because before we did this project, from what I heard, Mr. Copenace, he used to always be asked by people, ‘how do you say this word, how do you say this word.’ So, we decided to make it easier just by one click,” Bemidji High School senior Nathaniel McDonald said.
The QR codes, 29 in total, are all over Bemidji High School, and all you need to do to get the pronunciation is go to the camera app on your phone and scan the code. A notification will then pop up and a screen will show up and tell you the pronunciation of the word and the meaning.
“What they really are are an audio-visual representation of the word that way when people see those long big words they are not avidly afraid of mispronounce it. So they can hear it, and then they can repeat it,” Bemidji High School senior Xavier Michael-Young said.
Micheal-Young said if you give people more ways to learn a language, the more people will want to speak the language. Each QR code around Bemidji High School has the voice of one of the six students pronouncing the word. Copenace said the most rewarding part of the project is sharing the language with the staff and students at the school.