Language Profile: Five Key Questions and Ways to Gather Information

Key Questions

Click on each question to learn more.

1. How many people have language awareness and ability?

Language awareness: people who are aware of the language and/or may have just begun to actively learn the language. People with language awareness may know basics like colours and greetings but cannot yet use the language to communicate.

Language ability: people who currently speak and understand the language. This includes learners who are able to speak/understand some of the language.

Questions to answer:

  • How many people have language awareness?
  • How many people can speak and understand the language fluently, semi-fluently, as beginner learners or not at all?
  • How old are the speakers and learners?

Potential ways to gather information:

  • Conduct a survey. See Survey Tips for ideas.
  • Host small gatherings such as “teas” or focus groups where people may share their ideas informally.
  • Review previously gathered information. For example, if the community is in B.C., it may have already completed a Language Status Assessment (LSA) with FPCC. The LSA is a survey used by FPCC to gather baseline information on demographics and resources in First Nations communities for the purposes of language revitalization. The LSA can inform the language profile.

2. What are community members’ attitudes, views and interests towards the language?

This question clarifies how the community views the language and the level of interest in learning (or having their children learn) the language.

Questions to answer:

  • What are people’s opinions about whether they can learn the language and/or whether the language can be revitalized?
  • As a whole, how interested are members in learning the language?

Potential ways to gather information:

  • Conduct a survey.
  • Hold community meetings / focus groups (with youth, Elders and other groups).
  • Learn through individual conversations (for example, take someone out for coffee or drop by for a visit).
  • Create a poll on social media or other platforms.
  • Host a dinner with families/clans.
  • Visit existing community events and programs.
  • Use talking circles or other culturally appropriate tools.

3. What language resources currently exist?

This question identifies what resources are currently available for the language and what still needs to be developed. Resources could be word lists, dictionaries, recordings, research from a linguist or anthropologist, books, etc.

Questions to answer:

  • What resources currently exist?
  • What type of resource is it?
  • Where it is stored?
  • What format and condition is it in?

Potential ways to gather information:

  • If the community is in B.C., start by looking at the bibliography FPCC has compiled for the language. Look up the language at and click on “Learn more about [Language Name]” to find the bibliography and other useful links. If you have more resources you would like to add to the language’s bibliography, please let us know by emailing
  • Contact the relevant departments and organizations in the community that might have or know about resources, including the school, daycare, band office, cultural centre, etc.
  • Speak to people who are knowledgeable and/or have been involved in language work in the past to see if they know of any resources.
  • Search for resources online, in a local library or cultural centre, in museums, etc.

4. Where and how is the language actively used? How often is it used?

This question identifies where the language is currently spoken in the community (in ceremonies, in school, during community meetings or events, on community signs, in homes and other places) and how often.

Questions to answer:

  • Where or on what occasions is the language used and how often?

Potential ways to gather information:

  • Reflect as a planning team on where you hear the language being spoken and how often.
  • Talk to a fluent speaker or Knowledge Keeper and ask them where they hear/speak the language the most and how often.
  • Do a walk around the community to see where the language is used.
  • Ask schools and departments within the band administration for information.
  • Ask people through a survey where the language is used.
  • Determine where the language is used outside the community (for example, by members who live away from home).

5. What language revitalization efforts have taken place to date? What was the result?

This question identifies what projects or efforts have been tried in the past and if they were successful in achieving their goals.

Questions to answer:

What language revitalization initiatives (programs, planning, etc.) has the community tried? What were their outcomes? For example, did they create new speakers? Did they result in greater awareness? Are people still using the resources that were created? What worked well that can be built on? What didn’t work well that could be avoided?

Potential ways to gather information:

  • Reflect as a planning team on past language initiatives.
  • Talk to someone who may have memories or knowledge of past language initiatives.
  • Meet with members of the band administration who may have information.