Hispanic Heritage Month 2021: Infographic on Samples of Officially Recognized Indigenous Languages across Latin America designed by Dr. Jasmin (Bey) Cowin

Did You know there are over 1000 indigenous languages spoken across the Americas?

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Touro College, GSE and the TESOL/Bilingual department, I wanted to create a sharable resource for educators. In my home country, Germany, my local dialect is Swabian, an often incomprehensible, almost separate local language with customs and stories connected to our region.

Then, I thought about the plethora of officially recognized indigenous languages across Latin America. “Language is the foundation of a culture. For Indigenous oral societies, words hold knowledge amassed for millennia. A language also holds the stories, songs, dances, protocols, family histories and connections.”[1] For teachers, this infographic offers the opportunity to discuss the connection between language and culture, highlighting the treasures of the collectives narratives, stories, songs, dances, customs, family histories and connections.

There is a grave danger that indigenous languages disappear due to continued fallout of colonialism, climate change and devastating land loss of indigenous peoples. “Between 1950 and 2010, 230 languages went extinct, according to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Today, a third of the world’s languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers left. Every two weeks, a language dies with its last speaker, 50 to 90 per cent of them are predicted to disappear by the next century.” [2]

References:

[1] Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®

[2] Nina Strochlic, The Race to Save the World’s Disappearing Languages, National Geographic April 2018