The very first language nest program may have started with a group of Samoan and Cook Island mothers, who set up an immersion early childhood program in the 1970s. Since then, the language nest movement has spread across the world. Some early international programs that started in the 1980s include the Maori Te Kohanga Reo program in New Zealand and the 'Aha Punana Leo program in Hawai'i. In fact, the term "language nest" is a direct translation of the Maori name Te Kohanga Reo, which symbolizes the act of nurturing young children in the language like a mother bird does in her nest.
In Canada, the first language nest programs began in the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk community in the early 1980s and in Adams Lake, B.C., with a Secwepemctsin program in the late 1980s. These programs each began from a realization that the fluent speakers of the language were aging and that it was necessary to begin passing the language on to the children if the language were to survive.(First Peoples' Cultural Council)