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(August 2014) Students from across Mexico spent the month of July in the city of San Luís Potosí for an intense four-week course in applied linguistics. The SIL-directed Diplomado en Lingüística Aplicada was hosted by the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí.
More than half of the forty-two students who participated in the course were mother-tongue speakers from Mexico’s original language communities, including Mazahua, Me'phaa, Mixe, Náhuatl, Otomí, P'urhépecha, Totonac and Zapotec. The group of students came from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of interests, but all shared a desire to learn other languages and take part in community development work in language communities. Faculty and staff for the Diplomado came from Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the United States.
This summer's Diplomado consisted of 160 hours of course work covering four main subjects:
Each day students and teachers shared almuerzo, a hearty mid-morning breakfast, together on campus, allowing more personal interaction. In addition to daily classes and many hours of homework, the students also attended two special presentations. A Diplomado staff member who also serves with SIL’s International Relations, gave a presentation on issues of gender equity and, another presentation introducing students to the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
After four weeks of study, projects and exams, the Diplomado concluded on August 1 with a multilingual closing program featuring many student presentations. Each student received a certificate for attending the course and all who achieved passing grades will receive an official document from the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí.
Since the mid 1990s, this SIL-directed linguistics course has provided a unique training experience found nowhere else in Mexico. The students of this summer's course expressed deep appreciation for all they learned, for its usefulness in increasing their ability to meet needs in their own language communities or elsewhere, including methodology for cultivating and strengthening the use of Mexico’s indigenous languages. Several students from the group expressed a desire to continue their studies with additional formal training.