Preserving indigenous languages in Latin America: Culturally aware education

Esmeralda Cartagena Collazo raises awareness and preserves indigenous students' languages

Esmeralda Cartagena Collazo, a Literacy, Language and Culture PhD student, discusses the importance of honoring and preserving languages of indigenous students from Latin America, a topic often overlooked in education. 

Collazo also highlights her personal experiences to raise awareness of the value of these languages and encourage their preservation in classrooms. Below are her words.

Esmeralda Cartagena Collazo presents her research

Honoring and preserving languages of indigenous students from Latin America is a topic rarely discussed in education. As a presenter at the Austin Area Association for Bilingual Education, the Bilingual Education of the Metroplex, and the San Antonio Area Association for Bilingual Education, I have found that many teachers need more awareness of the importance of indigenous languages in their students' cultures and identities.

Statistics show there is a significant number of languages spoken in Latin America, and it is essential for educators to recognize that their students may speak an indigenous language of which they are unaware.

These languages are not only a means of communication but also an essential aspect of expression for indigenous communities. Getting to know students and their families can help teachers understand cultural backgrounds and incorporate their languages into the classroom.

It is crucial to value language and culture of indigenous students in the classroom. By recognizing linguistic and cultural diversity, educators combat social inequality and discrimination against these students. Online resources, translators, and books that include indigenous languages are available for teachers to utilize.

Some strategies teachers have used include incorporating indigenous music into the classroom, inviting parents to share their cultures, and using teaching materials that feature indigenous languages. Personally, this topic is close to my heart as my home country, Puerto Rico, lost its indigenous language due to colonization and discrimination.

I do not want other indigenous languages to suffer the same fate. Through my presentations, I hope to raise awareness about the value of indigenous languages and encourage educators to preserve them in their classrooms.

Page last updated 4:42 PM, July 14, 2023