Connecting Across Hemispheres

What a pleasure it was to meet with a group of six indigenous leaders from Latin America last week. The group is participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by the US Department of State, concentrating on the theme, “Indigenous and Native American Society in the 21st Century.” It was an honor for Rosetta Stone to host these leaders from Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina in our Arlington office.

croppercapture1071Among the issues the group will study while in the United States are language revitalization and indigenous language education.  In the time I spent with them, it was easy to see their passion and dedication to a cause that spans our two hemispheres and is shared by most indigenous groups worldwide. During visits to Minnesota, Hawaii and Arizona, they’ll see a variety of examples of language revitalization techniques in action, and observe the interplay of tribal, state and federal governments.

I was able to offer the group an example of corporate and indigenous collaboration in language revitalization. It’s an unusual combination, but by using several of our Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program projects as examples, I hope I was able to show that technology, immersion, a progressive corporation and a motivated indigenous community can join to form a dynamic solution to a challenging issue.

Grassroots efforts at language education and revitalization are the most likely to be successfully adapted to the unique local context. Any program can benefit by observing firsthand what works and seeing the range of possibilities. This knowledge is what these six leaders will carry home with them, and will use to strengthen language learning in their communities. I wish them all the best in their very important work.

Marion Bittinger

Marion was fascinated with languages from an early age, and has been learning ever since. She is a 1979 Modern Languages graduate of Elizabethtown College; and 1981 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with an M.A. degree in Ibero-American Studies. Teaching Spanish occupied the early years of her professional life, but she’s been a part of the Rosetta Stone family since 2003. Marion loves to travel and read, and would love to learn the endangered language of her own heritage, Pennsylvania Dutch.
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