Grant Writing: Language Sustainability

Instructor Name: 
Nariyo Kono
Course Description: 

The goal of this course is to provide students professional skills for grant proposal writing in the field of language diversity and sustainability. Along with the proposal writing skills, the students will learn a solid background in historical and societal issues that influence language diversity through hands-on collaboration with current language sustainability efforts. This capstone partners with one of the endangered language communities in the Northwest, specifically, the Warm Springs Tribal Language Program. The students will develop grant proposals that will support the community partner in their work to offer language diversity in their communities.  General class instruction will be exclusively online and those students who can meet at the PSU campus may be able to participate in a visit to the language communities to increase students’ practical understanding of the language issues and community needs in order to produce effective grant proposals.

According to UNESCO (2010), if nothing is done, half of the 6,000+ languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century. Human civilization would lose not only irreplaceable cultural diversity but an ancestral wealth knowledge and language, particularly. In the United States, there are 148 Native American languages spoken; however, most of them are critically endangered, and only 20 languages are likely to be passed onto the next generation if nothing is done. There is a National Language Policy to protect Native American Languages (1990; 1992), and 16 states (including California, Oregon and Washington) have created state-level policies to support Native American Language Teacher Certification over the last two decades. Many Native American tribes nowadays have language programs within their communities and are making concerted efforts to combat rapid language decline by maintaining and reviving their ancestral languages. On the Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon, two out of the their three tribal languages are now spoken by people who learned their languages as a heritage/second language. Their last living language is spoken by about 50 fluent speakers, who are 60 years old and above. The Warm Springs language program has worked on their language maintenance and revitalization for decades, and this capstone course will assist their efforts through culturally sensitive collaboration. In order to understand this critically endangered languages situation, all capstone students will be asked to approach language diversity issues through the lenses of their own heritage, especially those who are not from Native American communities. The Indigenous and Heritage/Immigrant language policy movements are intertwined, and it is critical for all of us to understand how these language diversity issues relate and to work on creating a public image and movement towards multiculturalism and multilingualism in our society. Learning how to develop grant proposals in the language sustainability field is an excellent gateway to actively participate in these efforts.