WHAT IS AN ENDANGERED LANGUAGE?

A language becomes endangered when people stop using it. “Endangered” means that few people speak the language. If everyone stops using the language, it becomes extinct.

Usually, people don’t choose to give up their language. We want to share our traditions, stories, and songs with our children. Language is deeply connected to culture.

Sometimes, though, people are forced to use a new language. One example is the residential school system in America, Canada, and Australia. Indigenous children were taken away from their families and sent to English-only schools. There, they were beaten for speaking their own languages. When those children grew up, many had forgotten their native languages completely. Others taught their children only English to protect them. The indigenous languages of America, Canada, and Australia are now very endangered.

Political, social, and economic forces like these affect people all over the world. As a result, more than 3000 of the world’s 7000 languages are endangered. Our goal at 7000 Languages is to provide language-learning technology so that communities can learn, teach, and revive those languages.

MY LANGUAGE ISN’T ENDANGERED. WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Many people want to protect endangered languages because they find them interesting. We appreciate language just like we appreciate music and art.

However, there are also social and scientific reasons to keep languages alive. Research shows that people are healthier and do better in school [1] when they can use their heritage language. This may be because they feel respected and connected to their communities.

Language can also be a research tool. Linguists (scientists who study language) need data from many different languages. This helps them understand how language works and why we speak the way we do!

[1] see “Mai Loko Mai O Ka ‘I’ini: Proceeding from a Dream” by Wilson and Kamanā (2001).

WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER IF EVERYONE SPOKE THE SAME LANGUAGE?

Actually, speaking more than one language is good for you! In scientific research, bilingual people were better at paying attention and multitasking. Speaking another language might even delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Most speakers of endangered languages already speak a major world language, like English. By learning their heritage language, they just benefit from being bilingual.

HOW DO PEOPLE REVIVE ENDANGERED LANGUAGES?

The most important part of reviving a language is teaching it to younger generations.

To achieve this, communities use a mix of:

  • Immersion (speaking only in that language)
  • Classes
  • Language games
  • Software

We help communities succeed by giving them the technology, like software, that they need.

WHAT IS 7000 LANGUAGES?

We are a nonprofit that connects communities with the tools to revive their languages. For a quick explanation of what we do, click here. You can also read more about our programs, partners, people, and impact.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PARTICIPATE?

For endangered language groups, there is no charge. Our programs are 100% free!

Partners pay for their own labor, travel, and equipment. Let us know if you need to find funding– we can help.

Our license with Transparent Language allows partners to distribute their courses for free. If partners choose to sell the course, they must pay a 20% royalty to Transparent Language. Usually, partners don’t charge for their courses. That way, more people can learn the language.