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Preparing for language development impact

CSLA 2006 group in Lima, Peru LIMA, PERU (May 2006) Eighteen students from 16 languages in four countries in Latin America (Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru) are studying at the Universidad Ricardo Palma in Lima, Peru, in a language program sponsored by SIL.

The course began 20 March and continues through mid-December of 2006.  The Curso Superior en Lingüística Aplicada para Comunidades Indígenas (CSLA), (Higher Applied Linguistics for Indigenous Communities), is designed to give speakers of ethnic minority languages a strong foundation in applied linguistics. They then can participate in language development in their own communities by developing a strong understanding of their own languages.

For most of the students this is the first time they have reflected on the grammars of their languages to this extent, and it is exciting to them. Bibiana Mendoza Garcia, a speaker of Mixteco from Mexico says, "This course is a great opportunity to learn linguistic concepts and apply them to my own language. It has made my fellow students and me see the need for such training and to consider how to pass on what we learn to others who haven't had the chance to study this way."

CSLA courses taught are sociolinguistics, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, translation, literacy, data management, and lexicography. The teachers are Peruvian, Argentinean, and American, each with considerable experience in these areas. Several of the students are bilingual school teachers or directors of schools and two have master’s degrees.

CSLA 2006, Professor Romani Peruvian instructor, Maggie Romani, says, "This innovative course is very productive for preparing people to work in their own languages. The context is also very special, with intercultural exchange between indigenous peoples of different countries, and mutual enrichment of the participants. I feel fortunate to be part of it and to be able to help the participants work on writing pedagogical grammars for their own languages."

Dr. Stephen Marlett, CSLA director, adds, "It is not just linguistics as usual. Everyday, both the students and teachers are learning something new."

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