A screen from Language Conservancy’s Owóksape Lakota language learning app. Image: The Language Conservancy. Owóksape means ‘Place of Wisdom’.

Press Pool (2019) Breakthrough app to allow for online learning of Lakota Indian Country Today November 21

I was intrigued by this announcement, for a number of reasons.

  • many indigenous languages are disappearing as elders die; this mobile app or online tool is one way to preserve a language and teach it to new generations,
  • ‘Owóksape also focuses on being culturally representative of the language. Not only are the visuals culturally appropriate, but the app includes cultural information such as the protocols that are required for speaking with elders, the use of kinship terminology, and the nuances of male and female speech within the Lakota language.’
  • the app features strong integration to social media platforms and classrooms to create collaborative environments and meet specific language-learning needs for Indigenous communities
  • ‘this particular program is best suited for true language revitalization needs because we’re trying to build real speakers of the language, not just hobbyist learners who do it on the side’.

The Language Conservancy plans on using the same breakthrough technology to replicate the app in other Indigenous languages.

The Lakota Language Consortium is a non-profit organization of linguists, Native American leaders, and volunteers leading the way to revitalize the Lakota Language through educational programs, teacher trainings, dictionaries, textbooks, apps and other language learning materials.

The Language Conservancy is a nonprofit organization leading the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages and cultures by developing learning materials, hosting educational events and raising awareness for the importance of sustaining endangered languages. The Language Conservancy currently works with more than 25 Indigenous language communities throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia.

This seems such a good project that I am wondering if there are any similar online programs for the languages of Canadian First Nations (other than those shared across the border)? If you know of any, could you send information to tony.bates@ubc.ca?



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