Language Revitalization Working Group

The Language Revitalization Working Group critically examines theories, methodologies, and applications of language revitalization in a variety of world contexts. It provides a centralized venue for interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners of language revitalization to share, present, discuss, and improve their language revitalization efforts.

In spring 2020, we will meet (roughly) every other week, on Wednesdays from 2-3 in Dwinelle 1303.

For more information, or to be added to our mailing list or bCourses site, contact Martha Schwarz ( or Julia Nee ( If you'd like to attend any of our events but have questions/concerns about accessibility or other accommodations, please reach out via email!

Spring 2020 Meeting Schedule:

January 29: When a community isn't asking for language revitalization, what's next?

A discussion of ethics around how/whether to talk about language endangerment in communities where the language isn't seen as endangered, guided by two readings:

Henze, Rosemary and Kathryn Davis. 1999. “Authenticity and Identity: Lessons from Indigenous Language Education.” Anthropology & Education 30(1): 3-21.

Pérez-Báez, G. (2014.) Addressing the gap between community beliefs and priorities and researchers’ language maintenance interests. In G. Pérez-Báez, C. Rogers, & J. E. Rosés Labrada (Eds.) Language Documentation and Revitalization in Latin American Contexts (pp. 165-194). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

For access to these readings, please email Julia at

February 12: A discussion with Mary Hermes (University of Minnesota)

In anticipation of Mary Hermes's talk at Fieldwork Forum at 4pm, we'll be reading and discussing selected papers from Hermes, and she will join us for a discussion of that work. We will read "Designing Indigenous Language Revitalization" (Hermes, Bang, and Marin 2012) and "New Domain for Indigenous Language Acquisition and Use in the USA and Canada" (Hermes, Cash Cash, Donaghy, Erb, and Penfield 2016). For access to the readings, consult our bCourses page or write to

February 26: Language revitalization in contexts where English isn't the matrix language: How do you prioritize multilingual language learning when access to English isn't guaranteed?

March 4: Participatory Action Research in Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec Language Revitalization (Julia Nee, UC Berkeley)

March 18: Radical/non-uniform/multiliterate approaches to orthography development

April 1: Using historical documents with language learners in revitalization

April 15: Developing pedagogical materials

April 29: Reflection on how we will incorporate what we've talked about this semester into our upcoming projects

Fall 2019 Meeting Schedule:

September 05: Welcome! 

At our first meeting, we'll all introduce ourselves and discuss our interests in this group. We'll go over some proposed readings/speakers for this semester. As a way to frame the discussion, we invite you to read Hinton_2018_Introduction_What_is_Language_Revitalization.pdfPreview the document in order to frame your ideas about what language revitalization is in relation to others' ideas.

September 19: The role of universities in language revitalization

This week, we'll discuss the past, current, and future role(s) that Universities play in language revitalization. To ground our discussion, we invite you to read  this article by Little et al. about a community-university partnership in Canada, alongside the McGill Vision Statement "Bridging communities and universities through language engagement." Closer to home here at UC Berkeley, we also encourage you to consider the chapter by Baldwin, Hinton, and Perez-Baez on Breath of Life from the Routledge Handbook of Language Revitalization alongside the report on Native American collections in archives on the UC Berkeley campus. Some questions we'll likely discuss include: (1) what barriers to collaboration exist and how can we in our (multiple) roles work to address them? (2) how do the goals of different individuals, groups, and institutions work together or challenge one another? (3) what alternatives to the current model could we propose?

October 3: Decolonizing methodologies

Join us for a discussion of decolonizing methodologies, facilitated by Lissett Bastidas. It is recommended to read the works listed below, and to conder the following questions: 

1. Why is an Indigenous creation story that may or may not have a chronology usually considered in academia a myth and not part of history nor religious studies?

2. Can that change? How?

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012.  Decolonizing Methodologies. Pp. 26-41

Kovach, Margaret. 2010. Ch 4 "Applying a Decolonizing Lens within Indigenous Research Frameworks." In Indigenous Methodologies. Pp. 75-93

Optional: Teaiwa, Teresia. 2014. "The Ancestors We Get to Choose: White Influences I Won't Deny." In Theorizing Native Studies edited by Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith. Pp. 43-53.

October 17: Ways to assess

Join us for a presention and discussion of assessment strategies for indigenous languages, led by David Sul. He writes:

I will be focusing my presentation entitled “Indigenous Language Assessment Development” toward those of you who are looking for practical assessment development advice. I will include some important definitions as well as a nuts and bolts description of the instrument development process undertaken to construct the Dibishgaademgak Anishinaabemowin (Measuring Anishinaabemowin) assessment that is the focus of my dissertation. At the conclusion of the presentation, I hope to draw contrasts between the approaches taken within the seven articles and the one undertaken by our assessment development team.

October 31: Technology and language revitalization

Join us for a presentation and discussion of the relatinship between technology and language revitalization led by Edwin Ko. Edwin has shared an annotated bibliography of twelve selected articles involving digital technology within language revitalization which can be downloaded so that you may read articles you find relevant. Last month, Edwin was invited to participate at a two-day meeting at Carleton University where the topic was "Digital Tools for Endangered Languages: Listening, Learning and Looking Ahead." He will share some of the highly stimulating discussions from the meeting. Open discussions are highly encouraged.

November 14: Visit by Margaret Noodin at 4:00pm; discussion of Noodin's articles from 1-2

In anticipation of Margaret Noodin's talk at 4pm today, we'll be reading and discussing two of her papers: Waasechibiiwaabikoonsing Nd'anami'aami, "Praying through a Wired Window": Using Technology to Teach Anishinaabemowin (2011; in Studies in American Indian Literatures 23(2):3-24; and chapter 8 from Bringing Our Languages Home (2001) "Anishinaabemowin: Language, Family, and Community". Come ready to discuss, ask questions, and get excited about Noodin's talk!

December 5: Project update