Posted to the Ethnos Project by on September 7th, 2014

In California, efforts to save indigenous languages have a century long history. The use of technology in ever-new ways is a part of that history. The earliest technology to encounter an indigenous language was the wax cylinder. This instrument was used for recording the sounds of the languages from native speakers’ voices. The newest technology involves new media uses, new recording equipment, and new multi-media software among other innovations. Teachers, students, and others communicate in their native languages through e-mail messages, faxes, and web pages. Web pages exist for the Hupa, Karuk, and Kumeyaay languages of California. A Yurok language teacher sends language audiotapes to her grandson in college in Oregon (Hinton, 2001a). In the Hoopa tribe’s Aht’ine Ch’o:yalts’it Education Department, the Hupa Language, Culture, and Education program records language classes with a digital tape recorder and burns CD recordings.

Attitudes toward technology within indigenous language programs range from the belief that technological is significant in language survival to the view that technology is unnecessary. It is useful to look at research covering the entire range of attitudes since the success of technology in a language program depends upon who uses it. Advocates (see e.g., Arthurs, 2001; Reyhner, 1999) for the benefits of technology for the language classroom cover areas ranging from individual learning styles to strategies for teacher training and materials development. Most recently, educators have advocated the use of technology for community education in the form of newsletters, newspapers, radio, and television.

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