Dixie Darr

A Valiant Effort

In Learning on April 26, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Imagine that you are the last person on earth who speaks English. You understand those around you because you can also speak their language, but what would the loss of your language mean to you? Language influences culture, including the way we think, so the loss of a language also means the loss of a culture.

That’s already happening pretty fast. “of the estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, linguists say nearly half are in danger of extinction and are likely to disappear in this century,” according to an article in the New York Times. Languages are now falling out of use at a rate of about one every two weeks.

At least one expert predicts that we will lose 90% of earth’s languages in the next 100 years because of globalization.

One First Nation government in the Northwest Territories of Canada has turned to its children, specifically kindergarteners, for help. “In a bid to save their language, and with it, their culture, the Tlicho government has implemented an immersion kindergarten program taught entirely in their native language,Tlicho Yati,” as reported by Smithsonian Magazine.

Wow. The only thing I remember learning in kindergarten was how to do knee circles on the hand rail outside our classroom door.

In the long run, this effort won’t stop the stampede of English and Chinese, but it preserves one language and one culture for a little while longer. And that’s worth a try.


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