Panel with Mary Steiner, Joi Barrios-Leblanc, Kathryn Klar, Upkar Ubhi, October 16, 2015

The Critical Importance of Less-Commonly-Taught Languages

Lesser Known Languages are Essential
Mary Steiner, United Nations Association of San Francisco
The less commonly taught languages are threatened with extinction as the homogeneity of globalization prevails. International and transnational entities such as UNESCO and Google agree on many levels to document, protect, and stabilize spoken language based on the principles similar to biological diversity and rights of indigenous peoples. Countries like Peru and Ethiopia are examples. It is essential for research universities to study and teach lesser known languages in order for the United Nations to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Understanding Heritage Learners, Their Community Activism and Diaspora Nationalism
Joi Barrios-Leblanc, South & Southeast Asian Studies
Why study Filipino? My paper proposes that among the most motivated heritage learners of Filipino are those whose desire to learn is propelled by their community activism and diaspora nationalism. Drawing from Agnes He’s portrait of the Chinese heritage learner, my colleague Cynthia Aban’s research on Filipino heritage learners, and my own study of diaspora nationalism among Filipino Americans, I look closely into the learning process of the following: volunteers at health clinics and medical missions, activists engaged in human rights work in the Philippines, and members of chapters of the League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan, youth groups associated with the national democratic movement in the Philippines.

Heb Iaith, Heb Galon: Linguistic imperialism and cultural oblivion
Kathryn Klar, Celtic Studies Program
No Language, No Heart. We often hear that “the winners write the history,” but they also set—or try to set—the linguistic agenda for colonized peoples. The Welsh language is a case in point. I will speak about how the Welsh language has survived in its ancestral land against all odds, and how it is a continuing reminder of a history that the English power structure would have preferred we forgot about a long time ago.

The Critical Importance of Less Commonly Taught Languages: Punjabi
Upkar Ubhi, South & Southeast Asian Studies
We will begin by looking at the historical context in which Punjabi began to be taught at UC Berkeley. The factors that were instrumental in the creation of the current Punjabi program will be highlighted. The brief for this presentation was to consider the constituency of the students interested in learning Punjabi, their reasons, and some of the students’ involvement in extra-curricular activities which may spark an interest in the language. We will also examine language teaching within a pedagogical and linguistic framework; the effectiveness of peer group learning within a context of creating, writing, and performing skits. The presentation will conclude with some of the challenges that need to be addressed to strengthen the future development of the current Punjabi program at UC Berkeley.

Friday, October 16, 2015
3-5 pm
B-4 Dwinelle Hall