Let’s Think about Dialects
I remember back about five years ago, I worked for an organization that assisted women and children who were victims of domestic violence. My position allowed me to work immigrant women from various cultures. As part of my position, I helped some women navigate through the legal system, and find access to other services, including shelter.
There was this woman, who was from southern mexico. she had two month old baby who had a rare condition. When trying to assist this women, there was a communication barrier between us. I spoke a good amount of Spanish but she was only understanding some words here or there. I thought that maybe I was saying some words wrong. So, my supervisor spoke to her and it turned out that the young woman’s Spanish was limited. She was from a Mayan tribe who lived near the border of Guatemala. She understood basic Spanish but we were still having a hard time in communicating on a deeper level.
There was another woman who came to the shelter. She spoke Spanish but the Spanish she spoke was a creole language. It was a mixture of Castellano (Castillian Spanish) and an indigenous language. Sadly to say, I do not recall some of the words that she taught me.
However, I feel as language educators, it is important to have some knowledge of these Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL). If you have had any experience with an indigenous language related to colonial language that you teach, then introducing a unit related to indigenous cultures or language may prove to be beneficial. Think of it this way, you may have students who are interested in Missionary work, the Social Sciences, or Linguistics.