Using Learner-Generated Work as Source Materials for a Language Revitalization Course

Lecture | March 8 | 12-1 p.m. | B-4 Dwinelle Hall

 Julia Nee, PhD Candidate, Linguistics

 Berkeley Language Center

Over the past two years, Julia Nee has been working on language revitalization initiatives with speakers and learners of Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec (TdVZ), an indigenous language spoken by approximately 3,500 people in Oaxaca, Mexico. One of her projects focuses on the development and implementation of several two-week intensive language camps for children ages 5-12. Few resources for learning TdVZ exist, and it was necessary to create nearly all of the language camp materials from scratch. In the process, a number of questions arose, especially, those related to identity (Nee is not Zapotec) and to the wide-ranging understanding by Zapotec participants of the notions of ‘authentic’, ‘culturally appropriate’, or ‘linguistically accurate’. In this talk, Julia Nee will give an overview of the possible responses to these issues, focusing in on the place of learner-generated material as an input to language learning. Based on classroom observations, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups with learners and their parents, it appears that learner-generated material, though it may introduce some linguistic ‘inaccuracies,’ has been successful in increasing learner engagement and continued language use.,