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Concerning learning materials for “small” languages

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Title: Concerning learning materials for “small” languages
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: Success in language acquisition/learning requires extensive authentic language input. Efficient language teaching, therefore, should be concerned about facilitating this input, largely in the form of appropriate textbooks. As objects of language study, “small” languages are not inherently different from other (more influential) languages. However, the major problem with regard to them would seem to be the lack of fully-featured learning materials.

In the case of learning/teaching “minor” languages, two situations may be differentiated:

- when extensive input of the language is supplied naturally through a continuing (though, perhaps, limited) tradition of native speakers

- when the natural input of the language is missing or is not sufficient.

In the first situation, ensuring conservation of the language in question may rather be an issue of language planning (creating new uses of the language and providing for them with a writing system, literature, technical terminology, etc.) and of promoting local cultural identity among younger generations of the community. Pedagogical aspects of it would be teaching language standards and nuances of style, etc. but not the language itself. In the second situation, study would have to help students internalize language models and vocabulary which serve the major needs of communication.

In the light of these facts, this paper will treat the issue of designing optimal language learning materials drawing on self-study textbooks of “small” languages by the French publishing house, Assimil. Analogies between the pedagogy of the so-called “dead” languages and “small” languages will also be considered (as both of these types can be seen as being in non standard social situations and beyond the mainstream of language education). Desirable types of language learning materials and the principles of composing them will be elaborated on and samples dealing with certain minority languages of Russia and Nepal will be presented.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/25325
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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