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Strategies for activating language practices and participation in a multilingual community: Results and challenges

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Title:Strategies for activating language practices and participation in a multilingual community: Results and challenges
Authors:De Korne, Haley
Pérez Báez, Gabriela
Contributors:De Korne, Haley (speaker)
Pérez Báez, Gabriela (speaker)
Date Issued:12 Mar 2015
Description:In Isthmus Zapotec (IZ) communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, the youths' language repertoires are increasingly dominated by Spanish, although many develop passive competencies in IZ through exposure among adult and elder generations. A program promoting the active intergenerational use of IZ has been developed as part of a large lexical documentation effort with a botany subcomponent. Beginning in 2012, this program has, from the outset, included community participation, retention of research results, and creation of learning materials, leading to an on-going effort to facilitate a year-long program of language learning opportunities.

In this paper we describe strategies adopted to encourage active IZ use both within and around the documentation project. We present results of these approaches and argue that attention to language practices among all participants in revitalization and documentation initiatives is an important step towards improved program planning. Strategies within the program include privileging IZ in the research instruments and practices, and scaffolding language teaching through the creation of interdisciplinary workshops for children. The language practices of program participants resulting from these strategies are reported through analysis of recordings, ethnographic observation and interview data. Strategies outside the program activities include dissemination of bilingual learning materials and outreach to schools and cultural centers. Results are presented based on quantitative dissemination measures as well as ethnographic and interview data.

We discuss how opportunities and motivations for speaking, comprehending, reading and/or writing IZ were created among participants, including the team of facilitators consisting of speakers with varying degrees of language competence, the student participants in education initiatives, outside researchers, and the wider community. Examples include speakers engaging more actively with text and intergenerational communication, passive bilinguals producing language in both spoken and written forms, and Spanish-dominant bilinguals using IZ in new domains. We also explain that the use of IZ has extended to outside researchers through their use of research tools in IZ and that the public visibility of the program has led at least some local residents to take notice of the relevance of IZ. We conclude with a discussion of the on-going challenges in making these program-induced shifts in language practice more significant and sustainable. As a series of leveled workshops are developed, current language practices will be considered as a base for new strategies aiming to maximize IZ use while drawing on the participation and varying competencies of all participants.
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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