Marietta Hurst holds a B.A. and an M.Ed. from UBC, and has been a language and literacy educator and advocate since the 1970s. She has worked with elementary school students in London, England and in Vancouver, and with beginning teachers at UBC. Marietta has co-authored two books on literacy: 1991’s Whole Language: Practical Ideas, with Mayling Chow, Lee Dobson, and Joy Nucich, and 1997’s Keys to Literacy for Pupils at Risk, with Lee Dobson (both from Pippin Publishing). She has also given many workshops and conference presentations on language and literacy education for teachers and parents. Of her work, Marietta says,
I am passionate about fostering a recognition of the innate ability of infants to learn any language. When children are immersed in a setting rich in face-to-face conversation and being read to aloud, the focus in meaning emerges. In such a setting parents and teachers readily develop coaching strategies that empower learners to take ownership of meaning making. To me this is at a cornerstone of being human. It puts into prominence the significance of literacy learning.
Marietta’s conversations with Janet Werker about language and literacy were part of the inspiration behind the Language Sciences Institute, and the source of the idea for the university-wide undergraduate course. The vision for this course is to introduce the language sciences to students from across the university, and to encourage students from all disciplines to examine how language sciences has contributed to their discipline, and how applying core principles from language sciences can shape their study, work and life going forward.
I believe the development of this interdisciplinary course will spread such a passion across many faculties and it is my hope to see the extension of such a course into the community.
Marietta’s generous contribution to UBC in 2015 enabled us to launch the Language Sciences Initiative and the course Living Language: Science and Society. In 2018, Marietta pledged an additional three year’s seed funding that allows us to continue and grow the Language Sciences. We are tremendously grateful to Marietta for this support, and for her continuing partnership and inspiration.