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Diploma course prepares students for linguistic research and language development

(September 2012) A diverse group of thirty-seven students from Mexico recently completed a diploma course in applied linguistics at Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí (Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí). This annual course is held under the auspices of the university with instructors and program administration provided by SIL Mexico.*

Students and staff of the 2012 Diplomado en Lingüística Aplicada at Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí Students and staff of the 2012 Diplomado en Lingüística Aplicada at
Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí

Students came from across Mexico to attend the four-week Diplomado en Lingüística Aplicada, which introduced foundational skills for language and culture research and documentation. Training for language development and documentation is highly relevant in light of the increasing endangerment of languages around the world. In a recent study, researchers found that among world regions, the Americas region has experienced the most significant loss of language families.

Twenty of this year’s students are members of ethnolinguistic minority communities, representing eight language families: Mazahua, Me'phaa, Mixtec, Nahuatl, P’urépecha, Tojolobal, Totonac and Zapotec. The teaching and administrative staff arranged by SIL Mexico came from Mexico, the US, Canada and Costa Rica. The instructors’ field experience, knowledge and teaching skills were deeply appreciated. One student commented, “I learned more here in one month than in two years of university.”

The course concluded with a program to which the public was invited. Many students shared art forms from their communities, including songs, poems and a traditional dance. Some students will apply what they have learned in ongoing study programs at their own universities, others will apply the practical linguistics training to their work in language development projects with government institutions or non-governmental organizations.

Program coordinator Juanita Watters stated, "I am extremely proud of the quality of our Diplomado course this year. The professional manner in which classes were conducted by our experienced staff set the tone for serious academic inquiry. Our teachers were eager to teach and they worked extraordinarily long hours. They demonstrated a passion to see students better equipped for effective language development whether in their communities, or in someone else's language community."

This was the fifteenth session of the Diplomado en Lingüística Aplicada, which developed from a workshop in descriptive linguistics originally held in the city of Puebla.

* SIL is known as ILV in Latin America.

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