Lecture by Leanne Hinton, October 31, 2003

Teaching Endangered Languages

by Leanne Hinton, Professor, UCB Linguistics Department

Focusing on Native American languages, we will examine the ways in which the teaching of endangered languages differs from teaching world languages.  Teaching and learning of endangered languages has different problems, needs, and settings.  This includes different goals-with the ultimate goal, being to put the language into use in the community once again.  Endangered language teaching is community based, and often without books or classrooms and for many endangered languages, the primary problem is the lack of qualified teachers.  Native speakers rarely have training in language teaching and at this point are usually past retirement age.  There are no curriculum materials or pedagogical books to assist non-fluent teachers in teaching the language.  What is needed most for endangered languages is intensive teacher training in curriculum development and classroom methodology, as well as language learning for non-fluent future teachers.  Mentored language learning apprenticeships are being developed in many Native American groups where an older fluent speaker and a younger future teacher develop a partnership, with the goal of the apprentice becoming proficient in the language.  Since the apprentice who will be teaching the language will not have native fluency, one challenge is to extend the mentoring relationship into curriculum development and even directly into the class.  How all this is being accomplished in various communities is the topic of this paper.

Friday, October 31, 2003
3-5pm, B4 Dwinelle Hall