ERIC Number: ED395733
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996
Reference Count: N/A
Stories for Language Revitalization in Nahuatl and Chichimeca.
Francis, Norbert; Nieto Andrade, Rafael
Central Mexico is home to over 20 indigenous languages whose speakers still occupy their original ancestral communities. In this region, acute language conflict between Native languages and Spanish, the official state language, greatly affects elementary school students such as those in San Isidro Buensuceso Tlaxcala and Mision de Chichimecas in Guanajuato state. With fewer than 2,000 speakers, the Chichimeca language of Mision de Chichimecas faces an uncertain future. Of 285 elementary students, only 110 have retained productive language capacity. Although residents of San Isidro represent the largest indigenous language group (Nahuatl) in Mexico, they too are experiencing indigenous language erosion. A study in the two towns examined the practical benefits of teaching and promoting vernacular or native language literacy. Six years ago, a bilingual education program was implemented at Xicohtencatl Elementary School in San Isidro. Today, the national anthem is sung in both Nahuatl and Spanish, students speak Nahuatl freely, and some bilingual materials are available. However, literacy is still introduced exclusively in Spanish, as is virtually all academic content through sixth grade. Evaluation of student native language writing skills in grades 2, 4, and 6 revealed a more dynamic use and mastery of the Spanish language, with language skills in Nahuatl progressively lagging behind. The early stages of the Chichimeca bilingual education program point to promising new directions for reversing language loss. The program has addressed problems of teacher language competence and linguistic variation by providing teachers with taped versions of stories narrated in Chichimeca by older more fluent students. In addition, a written edition of materials is being prepared for teachers. This paper suggests that narrative structure is a key interpretive framework for language learning and could serve as a bridge between oral and writing skills to the benefit of both language preservation and literacy development. (LP)
Descriptors: American Indian Education, American Indian Languages, Bilingual Education Programs, Bilingual Students, Childrens Writing, Elementary Education, Elementary School Students, Foreign Countries, Indigenous Populations, Language Maintenance, Language Skill Attrition, Language Usage, Literacy Education, Mexicans, Native Language Instruction, Story Telling
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Chichimeca; Language Shift; Mexico (Central); Nahuatl
Note: In: Stabilizing Indigenous Languages; see RC 020 517.