It isn’t easy, but there's still a lot we can do
There are a lot of languages spoken across the globe—more languages than any expert can count off the top of their head. (There’s a reason we call ourselves 7000 Languages!)
And there used to be more.
You can probably name a few of the big languages that we call "dead", like Latin and Sanskrit. But there are far more that you’ve maybe never heard of. When a language dies, the knowledge, perspective, community, and perspective that a language embodies usually dies with it.
By some estimates, 43% of all languages currently spoken on Earth are endangered. Fluent speakers tend to be elderly, there can sometimes be shame and trauma associated with speaking a certain language, and creating language learning resources can be expensive. All these difficulties compound to make language revival difficult. All together, the biggest challenges facing language conservation are uniting a community of speakers in preserving their language and then developing the resources to help children and adults learn and speak that language.
That’s the heavy lifting — it’s what 7000 Languages specializes in. But there are ways we can all contribute to language preservation, whether you’re a linguist, a community builder, or just passionate about languages.
6 Things You Can Do to Help Language Revival
- Learn about languages! Make it a point to learn more about languages. Learn about what languages are spoken in which country. Read about them on Wikipedia. Find out more about how different languages coexist with the dominant languages in different places.
- Learn about the languages spoken in your community. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the U.S., but every city and state has a unique mixture of languages and communities. Find out which languages have significant populations of speakers in your community.
- Make language access visible at the organization you work at. Does your organization have a language plan? 1 in 5 people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. Make sure your organization has access to interpreters and translators and has a clear plan for communicating with clients no matter what language they speak.
- Support projects like 7000 Languages by learning a language. Set aside time every day to study a little and make goals for yourself. Even if you’re never fluent, practicing a language will help you empathize with people who don’t speak the dominant language in your community.
- Volunteer. Find ways to support language preservation projects in your community or across the globe. There are a lot of different ways people can volunteer. Sign up here to see what kinds of volunteers 7000 Languages is looking for.
- Make language learning a part of your family. Encourage your children to study another language in school, and bring it home with you. Speak to your family in your second language if you know one. Label items around the house in another language. Make speaking a second language fun and a part of your everyday routine.
- Donate! This is biggest way you can contribute to language revival. Help 7000 Languages in supporting language preservation by donating today, and make a pledge to donate annually.