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Mother-tongue literacy workshops for Yukpa teachers

Yukpa teachers collaborate on materials development. Yukpa teachers collaborate on materials development.

(May 2012) Teachers from the Yukpa community recently came together to receive training in how to conduct effective mother-tongue literacy courses. The Yukpa are a cross-borders community residing in both Colombia and Venezuela. This group of teachers came from villages throughout northeast Colombia, where the Iroka variety of Yukpa is spoken.

Although the remoteness of the area (a four-hour trip over dirt roads for some) made logistics a special challenge, the March workshop was well attended. Reflecting on the event, organizers reported:

The Yukpa teachers arrived one by one, until finally we had a group of twenty-one people. We did not expect that number, but it was gratifying to see their interest and participation in the workshop. Each one participated, worked and developed their own language guides in Yukpa. Their happiness was great when they held the final materials made by their own hands and also a certificate of participation in their workshop. We were encouraged by their enthusiasm and by their request for us to prepare another workshop. This was a truly intercultural workshop, with cooperation between the Yukpa teachers and those from outside of the community.

The workshop was planned and managed by Colombian linguist/translator Wilson Largo of Fundación para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Marginados (FDPM), with funding from SIL. Largo and his wife, literacy specialist Marleny Buenahora, have a long history of partnership with SIL in their work with the Yukpa community. Largo has been training community members to create written materials and radio programs in the Yukpa language. Buenahora will soon finish a degree in ethno-education from Colombia’s Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia.

Alvaro Peñalosa (left) and Gabriel Perez (right), the first
CLAVE graduates from the Yukpa community, lead workshop sessions.

Workshop instructors included the first two Yukpa graduates of SIL’s CLAVE* applied linguistics program in Colombia and Eva Mamaní, a PAPEL** intern from CLAVE. Mamaní introduced a multi-strategy literacy method known as COMELE and instructed participants in how to apply the method to teach reading and writing in Yukpa mother-tongue schools. Several personnel from FDPM helped to organize the workshop and also gained experience in using the methods in their work with other community literacy programs in Colombia.

Codazi workshop participants and instructors. Codazi workshop participants and instructors.

A subsequent workshop with the Yukpa community of Codazi, Colombia, was attended by twenty-two teachers. Further workshops are planned.


*Curso de Lingüística Aplicada para Vernáculo-hablantes
**Practicum in Adult learning, Program planning, Evaluation and Literacy


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