Encore!!! Helps To Preserve Endangered Languages
It is an unfortunate fact that in our modern world, languages around the world are being lost forever. Many of the 6,900 spoken languages in use in the world today are endangered as the number of native speakers decrease. This happens from reasons that range from colonization to urbanization, by force or by attrition. Language is intertwined with culture and cultural teachings, and when the language is lost a major part of the culture goes with it.
Encore!!! offers a unique opportunity compared to other language apps, in that it provides tools that users can use to help preserve these endangered languages before they are lost forever. Users can create content to help teach these languages, and others can access that user created content to learn from.
Why Save Endangered Languages?
We have written in depth on the problem of languages going extinct and why, but in this article we will be focusing on how to save them. But, this means we must address here why it is so important. The short answer to this question is that by saving these languages, we help to save the culture to which they are bound. Without language, we lose the way that cultures express themselves. We lose the meanings of religious and cultural ceremonies. We lose a connection to our past and our ancestors. We lose words that express ideas that other languages cannot.
These are the reasons why we seek to save as many languages as we can and preserve them so these cultures will not be lost to time. Preventing linguistic extinction benefits us all and ensures that we can learn more about these cultures, their histories, traditions, and the peoples they come from.
Learning languages that are endangered or isolated also has a positive economic impact on the communities that speak them. Increasing the ability for them to interact and trade with others, while also maintaining their cultural roots and not losing their native-tongue to the “lingua franca”.
How Does Encore!!! Help Users Preserve Languages?
The Encore!!! app is a language learning app that was developed to teach language in the proven L1-L2 learning method. This uses repetition of words in the user’s first language as well as the target language. Because of this, we have made it easy for users to create and share content including entire language lessons with our My Entries tool. This means that a user who speaks a near extinct language can use the app to share and teach their language. There are then two ways this content can be shared with potential learners.
1. Only The Content Creator Has The Encore!!! App
If only the creator has the Encore!!! app, then with our $2.99 a month subscription they will gain access to the My Entries tool. They can use My Entries to create vocabulary lessons, phrases, conversations, songs, stories, and more; then they can make playlists that have repetitions and pauses like our existing in-app lessons.
The creator can then screen record the lessons using their mobile device, and create videos that can be uploaded to video sharing sites such as YouTube or to a cloud sharing program like Google Drive. You won’t even need to do any extra video editing as My Entries will match the audio and text perfectly, and let you choose how many repetitions of each.
2. The Teacher And Students All Have The Encore!!! App
If the teachers and students all have access to the Encore!! app, then we have an even more interactive option for teaching these languages. Instead of creating content for use outside of the app, the teacher can send the audio and text files to the students so they can incorporate them into their own My Entries tool for personal use.
In a future version of our app, we plan on making this process even easier by allowing the app to get the content bundle as a language seed. This means that when the content is shared from the teacher’s Google Drive, it will be added directly to the students app library.
How Is Encore!!! Saving Endangered Languages Directly?
Outside of user created content, Encore!!! is also making an effort to preserve languages ourselves. Part of this journey started when we began our efforts to add the Navajo language to our app. The difficulty faced in finding native speakers who had the fluency and vocabulary to really converse in the language led to us realizing the depth of this looming threat. We were equally surprised when we visited the National Museum for Native Americans in Washington D.C., and found a stunning lack of any language resources.
Last year, we hired teachers in Navajo, Southern Quechua, Mayan Yucatan, Swahili, and Youruba to create content for us that will soon be available on the Encore!!! app. We know that the scope of reviving all these languages is huge, which is why we offer the My Entries tool and are encouraging users to contribute their language knowledge and help in this effort.
What Else Can Be Done To Help Save Endangered Languages?
The question many of you will be probably asking, is “what else can we do outside of just using Encore!!! to preserve these languages?” The answer is complex, as it does require a change on a societal level as well as personal ones.
The personal way to help is to learn an endangered language. Learn about a language and the culture it comes from. Not just the words, but how they came to be and why they are said. Learn about your own cultural history too, and maybe find an endangered language or dialect that is connected to it. Even Western European countries like Italy have local languages that are endangered.
On a societal level, changes are needed on the governmental level to both encourage education in these languages and end policies that stigmatize or criminalize their use. Indiginous peoples also need to have a hand in policymaking, especially when it comes to education, to ensure language and cultures are preserved.
Languages across the world are in danger of being lost, and when we lose those languages we lose important parts of culture and history. It will require an effort of people around the globe to help save and preserve them, and most importantly the tools to make preservation easier. To this end, Encore!!! is providing native speakers of these dying tongues the opportunity to create lessons to teach students across the world or right next door with our My Entries tool. We are also providing content of our own with teachers of endangered languages too.
Together, we can do our part to preserve these tongues and the cultures they belong to. By sharing knowledge with each other, we can prevent the loss of an important part of our world and its rich history and diversity.
Endangered Languages – FAQs
1. What is an endangered language?
An endangered language is one that is at risk of extinction and has a dwindling number of fluent speakers. Languages become endangered due to falling out of use as a more widely used one takes its place, either due to a shift to the dominant language of the greater region, a move to language with greater economic power, or deliberate linguicide.
2. How many languages are endangered?
Of the 6,900 spoken languages in the world today, between 50-90% of them are in danger of being lost by 2100. Unfortunately, due to the nature of endangered languages having very few speakers, it is hard to get an exact number.
3. Why should we save endangered languages?
Languages are an intrinsic part of the cultures from which they are birthed. By losing those languages we lose many important ways for a culture to express itself or pass down traditions.
4. How is the Encore!!! app saving endangered languages?
The Encore!!! app helps save endangered languages by giving native and fluent speakers a way to create learning material for teaching new students. Encore!!! is also working with native speakers of some languages to create lessons that are a part of our app itself.