All Programs – Hul’q’umi’num’ language courses

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Through Simon Fraser University First Nations Language Program and the Department of Linguistics, we offer a variety of language courses at different levels. Our courses will help you to gain become more fluent and to learn skills in language analysis and teaching.


Hul’q’umi’num’ — Simon Fraser University Certificate in Indigenous Language Proficiency (2021-22 cohort)


STARTING: May 17th, 2021.

hosted by the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language & Culture Society.



Donna Gerdts, Associate Director, Indigenous Language Program, Simon Fraser University




Twelve courses in the Hul’q’umi’num’ language learning 36 credits at Simon Fraser University.



The goal is fluency and literacy in Hul’q’umi’num’ and participants will also learn technical and other skills needed for becoming a language/culture instructor, language researcher, and materials developer.

Whether your knowledge of Hul’q’umi’num’ is beginning or advanced , you are welcome to participate in this program. Our language courses make use of immersion methods to help make language learning fun.


May 2021 – April 2022


We invite you to attend the first year of the program and earn a Certificate in Indigenous Language Proficiency and then to also go forward into the Diploma program.



 On-line on zoom; face-to-face

  • Courses will be held remotely (on-line using Zoom) during Summer term.
  • TBA for Fall term 2021 and Spring term 2022, but our hope is to have a

     combination of Zoom time and face-to-face time. 

  •   Snuneymuxw First Nation invites the face-to-face classes to be head at 

Woodbank Center of Excellence.

  • Other study groups at different locations depending upon where participants live.
  • Duncan study groups to be held at the Shhwumulqun – Language House, 1093 Nagle St.

The Woodbank Center is a former primary school located at 1984 Woobank Road Nanaimo, BC. It is minutes from Snunymuxw and Stz’uminus reserves and also convenient to highway 1 for participants coming from further north and south. Down the street is Hemer Provincial Park.

Summer 2021 (May 10-August 31):

INLG 130 – Practical Phonetics for Indigenous Languages (3)

INLG 133 – Introduction to Indigenous Language I (3)

INLG 134 – Introduction to Indigenous Language II (3)

INLG 158 – Indigenous Language Immersion I (3)


Fall 2021 (Sept 1-December 31):

INLG 200 – Introduction to Grammar in an Indigenous Language (3)

INLG 233 – Description and Analysis of an Indigenous Language I (3)

INLG 258 – Indigenous Language Immersion II (3)

INLG 160 – Language, Culture and Society (3)


Spring 2022 (January 1-April 30):

  INLG 234 – Description and Analysis of an Indigenous Language II (3)

  INLG 300 – Advanced Grammar of an Indigenous Language (3)

  INLG 333 – Indigenous Language Intermediate Level Proficiency I (3)

  INLG 335 – Topics in Indigenous Language I (3)


Course descriptions available at:




Class will mostly be held during daytime, for twenty hours a week. Additional sections may be available evenings and weekends depending on participants’ needs.




This program requires at least 20 hours of commitment per week for 12 months.

The program consists of 600 hours of together time— speaking and using Hul’q’umi’num’—plus guided study of web materials and group & individual projects.


There is some flexibility in the schedule, but participants must be available for the times certain day-time courses.


Applications for admission to this program are now being accepted.

Deadline for receipt of all paperwork is May lst. 


Admission to SFU requires a secondary degree though mature students can be admitted based on life experience.


Funding opportunities are available. Please contact us to discuss your situation.




Donna Gerdts, Associate Director, Indigenous Languages Program, SFU 


Evangeline Guerin, Hul’q’umi’num’ Language & Culture Society


Lorraine Yam, Manager, Indigenous Language Program, Simon Fraser University




Program is planned to continue for a second year, May 2022–April 2023, when you can earn a Diploma in Indigenous Language Proficiency.

Administrative support:

Q: Who do I contact for administrative help from SFU?

A: Please contact: Lorraine Yam for general questions and Donna Gerdts for questions concerning the Hul’q’umi’num’ language academy.

You can also find a variety of forms and information at:

Cost of the program:

Q: How much with the program cost and how can I get financial assistance?

A: General information on tuition and fees are available at the SFU website.

However, you should contact the post-secondary officier of your First Nations to get instructions on how to apply for financial assistance and deadlines for applying.


SFU also is able to help fund students. Contact: Donna Gerdts for information.

We are also going to engage in various fund-raising activities.

Please do not let funding stand in the way for your Hul’q’umi’num’ language learning journey.


Q: How do I apply to be an SFU student?

A: You must submit an application form, and send in official copies of your transcripts.

Fine the admission form on the web

and ask for help from Donna Gerdts on how to fill it in.

Q: I was an SFU student in the past. Do I still need to fill in the application form?

A: Usually you can submit a reactivation form. This will update your information.

Q: I never completed high school. Can I still become an SFU student?

A: Yes, there is a route for admission based on knowledge of First Nation cultural traditions. Please fill out this form:

Q: I am currently a secondary student. Can I begin my university studies now?

A: Yes, if you are a grade 12 student and will graduate in June 2018, we can make arrangements for you to take SFU courses part-time in spring and become a full-time university student at the end of June. SFU also allows concurrent registration so that universities can be credited to your high school diploma (subject to permission of the principal). One university course equals half a high school course. You will need to fill out the following form in addition to the regular admission form.

Q: I am currently an undergraduate student at another post-secondary institution and will not complete my bachelor’s degree by April. Can I enroll in this program?

A: Yes. We can assist you in making arrangements with your current post-secondary institution. Please provide us with information about your current program and your future plans.

Q: I already have a university degree. Can I enroll in this program?

A: If you have a BA or BEd (or even an MA or MEd) and want to add expertise in Hul’q’umi’num’ and earn a certificate, we would love for you to join our cohort. You will need to consult with your First Nation’s post-secondary officer for their policies on limits to supporting multiple post-secondary programs.

Frequently asked questions:

Q: I have already taken university courses in Hul’q’umi’num’. Can I transfer these courses to SFU and apply them toward the certificate?

A: If you have already taken some language courses at SFU, VIU, CNC, or elsewhere, we can discuss with you what courses you still need to take to finish the certificate. However, we encourage everyone to participate in all 390 hours of this program, as the goal is to get as fluent as you can in Hul’q’umi’num’ as well as learn linguistic skills.

Q: I speak the Hul’q’umi’num’ language fluently already. Can I apply for this program?

A: Learning to speak the language is so much more difficult than learning to read and write it. We would love to have you in our program, give your talent proper respect, and help you gain literacy skills and also help you move to the next level of linguistic knowledge of the language.

Q: I am not interested in earning a certificate, can I still take classes?

A: Our priority in this program is full-time students who wish to complete one year of university and earn a certificate. The cohort program and all students will be together for all of the classes and the learning is designed to be incremental but steady. So this might not be a good fit for someone who can’t participate in all the classes. Please contact us to tell us your goals, however, as we often offer other classes, and also Vancouver Island University and several Hul’q’umi’num’ nations offer language courses.

Q: How hard will the courses be?

A: University courses are very demanding both in terms of time commitment (39 in-class hours per course and a big expectation for engaging in study and research outside of class time). But we will do our best to help break the learning down into small, manageable tasks focused on important and valuable topics. You need to be ready to commit to attend every class and do each assignment in a timely fashion. This may require some sacrifice of personal time during the eight months of the program. Psychological factors play an important part in success, and we turn to spiritual guidance from the Elders and emotional support from our families to help us stay strong and persevere.


Q: Several orthographies are being used to represent Hul’q’umi’num’ in the different schools. What orthography will the courses use?

A: We will be presenting materials in the orthography developed during the CURA grant between University of Victoria and HTG (though we don’t use the letter /o/, opting for the phonological form /uw’/ instead). You can see how we write things in the materials on this website. When you are writing or producing materials, you can use any orthography you would like, as long as you provide us with the key to what the symbols represent and use it systematically. 


Q: I’m eager to learn and use my own dialect of Hul’q’umi’num’. What dialect will you be using in class?

A: We encourage all participants to speak and write their own dialect, the style of speech used in your own family. 


ta’ulthun sqwal | Hul’q’umi’num’ Language Academy (2018)

— A full-time eight-month Simon Fraser University program
aimed at furthering your fluency in Hul’q’umi’num’

When: April – December 2018
Location: Duncan, BC (and other locations TBA)

The program will consist of 400 hours of together time— speaking and using Hul’q’umi’num’—plus guided study of web materials and group & individual projects.

The goal is fluency and literacy in Hul’q’umi’num’ and participants will also learn technical and other skills needed for becoming a language/culture instructor, language researcher, and materials developer.

Participants will earn 30 units (=one year) of university credit, leading to an SFU Certificate in First Nations language proficiency. Upon completion, students can continue on with BA at SFU, or credits can transfer into BA or BEd programs at various universities.

Click the button below to see class announcements, lessons, and homework:

For HLA (2018) Phonetics Class:

For information on admission and FAQ:

For information about the courses:

To express your interest in joining this program, please contact:  

Donna Gerdts

Simon Fraser University Certificate in First Nations Language Proficiency

Courses lead to a Certificate in First Nations Language Proficiency from Simon Fraser University. So far sixteen students have graduated from the certificate program.


Claudia Sylvester receives her certificate from Marianne Ignace, Director of the FNLC, and Tom Perry, Chair of Linguistics.

For more information about the certificate:

Masters in Linguistics of a First Nations Language (Hul’q’umi’num’) (2018)

Program starts in March 2018.

Graduate Certificate in the Linguistics of Hul’q’umi’num’ (2017)

UPDATE: We are very pleased to report that 16 students successfully completed this program. They are now progressing to the MA program.

The nine-month graduate certificate program, offering training in linguistics for language researchers, educators, and material developers, started in April 2017 and completed in December 2017.

Previous Course:  FNLG 130 Hul’q’umi’num’ Practical Phonetics

If you are a student in the course, or if you would like to see what we are studying, please visit the FNLG 130 class page.

Thank you to Vancouver Island University for hosting this course.

Previous Course:  FNLG 200 Hul’q’umi’num’ Grammar

If you would like to see what we studied in this course, please visit the FNLG 200 class page.

Thank you to School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith for hosting this course.

Previous Course: FNLG 158 Language Adult Immersion (Hul’q’umi’num’)

Simon Fraser University

September 16 to October 8, 2017: Saturday afternoons 12 noon to 5 pm and Sunday mornings 9 am to 1 pm.

Held at Kulleet Bay, Stz’uminus First Nations.

Previous Course: Hul’q’umi’num’ Language Academy 2019

If you would like to see what we studied in this course, please visit:

Previous Course: Hul’q’umi’num’ Language Academy 2018

If you would like to see what we studied in this course, please visit:

SFU Masters in Linguistics of Hul’q’umi’num’ (2018)

If you would like to see what we studied in this course, please visit:

Learning the Language Immersion Style


Our language courses make use of immersion methods to help make language learning fun.

Hul’q’umi’num’ needs language teachers

Ruby Peter speaking about Hul’q’umi’num’ education