Children Play a Role in Language Preservation


teachers and studentWill a language die before the children learn to write it? 

One of the first steps in preserving a language is to teach it at school.

Unfortunately, new school books are rare in the minority languages in some areas of eastern Europe. Editions printed long ago are still the only ones in the classroom. Sometimes there is only one book available for a whole class of third-graders. 

How does the teacher decide what to do? Can everybody have a look at the book? Or would the book be better left on the shelf and the hour filled with reciting from memory, admiring cultural art and crafts, and talking about the culture rather than learning the language in depth? 

All these problems can be discussed with teachers-to-be while they are still in training.

A teacher could learn how to make his or her own materials. Lessons in the minority languages could actually be exciting and packed with learning. Good ideas learned in teacher training are worth sharing and duplicating.

Arjen Lock with SIL specializes in the problem of minority language groups not being adequately able to read their own language in areas of the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Russian Federation. He works with these communities to significantly raise the level of first-language literacy. After his lecture to student teachers on this topic at a regional university, Lock received such an enthusiastic response that it was decided his lecture on language development and material design was worth repeating. He discovered that the student teachers were eager and ready to learn new ways of teaching. Newly-motivated and capable teachers are the key to new reading generations.