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Speakers of Mexico's Minority Languages Develop New Skills

"I am no longer afraid of the computer," commented Bibiana. "I learned more about how to analyze my own Mixteco language and I now know more methods to use to teach people to read."

Bibiana was one of fifteen participants in the Third Applied Linguistics Workshop (TLAP) held in April 2000. SIL field linguists trained speakers of 13 indigenous Mexican languages to enable them to work independently in their own languages.

Trainees discovered how languages work grammatically and how to analyze the sound system of a language in order to make an alphabet. Grappling with computer skills, they learned word processing and how to include an interlinear translation in a text. They also prepared literacy materials and practiced teaching.

Often speakers of Mexican indigenous languages associate reading and writing solely with Spanish. When they see that their own languages can be written, they realize they too have value. This promotes the acceptance of their own culture and enhances their self-esteem.

Workshop participants left with printed materials to put to immediate use, as well as new skills and ideas to help them produce more. They are now better prepared to contribute significantly in their communities as they develop new materials in written form in their own languages.

Other participants could echo Bibiana's enthusiasm, "This training gave me greater appreciation for my own language as well as other languages."