Learning With: ‘With Indigenous Languages in Steep Decline, Summer Camps Offer Hope’

Learning With: ‘With Indigenous Languages in Steep Decline, Summer Camps Offer Hope’

Before reading the article:

What do you know about the language or languages spoken by your ancestors? Do you speak that language today? Do your parents or grandparents?

Do you know any family stories about people learning a new language, perhaps when they arrived in a new country or region where another language was more common? What about relatives who spoke one language at home and a different language at school or work?

Are you interested in learning a language that is part of your family’s history? What, if any, are the obstacles you may encounter in trying to learn that language?

Now, read the article, “With Indigenous Languages in Steep Decline, Summer Camps Offer Hope,” and answer the following questions:

1. What is Hupa? For how many people is it considered their first language? According to the article, how many people are fluent enough in Hupa to teach it to others?

2. How many languages are in existence today? How many of those languages do experts predict will lose all fluent speakers by the year 2100?

3. What statistics in the article support the statement that language revitalization programs have grown in recent years?

4. In addition to the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s efforts to preserve their language, where else have people been working to save other languages?

5. What events that occurred in the Hoopa Valley led to the eventual decline in Hupa and the rise of English as the language spoken by most, if not all?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

The article states:

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2019 the International Year of the Indigenous Language in an attempt to raise “global attention” to the peril facing indigenous languages, as well as a way of celebrating revitalization efforts like those in the Hoopa Valley Tribe, said Boyan Radoykov, section chief for universal access and preservation in Unesco’s knowledge societies division.

The author goes on to quote Mr. Radoykov as stating that the preservation of indigenous languages “contributes significantly to the promotion of cultural identity and diversity and intercultural dialogue.”

If this is true, what do you think could be the lasting effects of experiences like the language immersion camp you read about in the article?

Have you ever attended a language immersion camp or class? What was the experience like for you?