• Your Culture, Your Traditions, Your Heritage: Talking About Minority Languages in English

    Those of us who speak English as a dominant language can overlook the difficulties faced by people who speak minority languages. Many students of mine speak Basque as their principal language and have often shared their experiences with me on this issue. I did my schooling through Irish and come from an Irish speaking family so this topic is of great interest to me.

    What is a minority language?

    A minority language is a language spoken by a less dominant sector of the population of a country of territory.

    Some minority languages are endangered and face extinction.

    What Makes a Minority Language?

    Small number of speakers.

    Political reasons (some languages are associated with terrorism).

    Prejudice (some languages are simply considered less important than dominant languages).

    Possible Problems Associated With Minority Languages

    Limited resources for education through the language,

    Long travel periods to attend schools where the language is taught ,

    Few job opportunities in work using the language,

    Hostility from those who do not speak the language.

    Positive Aspects Of Speaking Minority Languages

    Each has its own particular culture and literature,

    Gives people a strong sense of place and heritage,

    Where funding for educational purposes is available, the quality of the teaching can be excellent as classes are small and teachers are generally specialized and passionate about the subject.

    While we think about these issues, let’s listen to a report on the current state of minority languages in Europe and answer the questions that follow it.

    Where is the first school located?

    What has been the first school’s recipe for success?

    When did the first Diwan schools in Brittany open?

    How many such schools are open now?

    What is the method used in Diwan schools?

    Why are there criticisms that the Diwan schools are against the French constitution?

    What problems have Diwan schools faced as a result?

    What does Remi Guillou think about the two approaches to learning Breton?

    When was the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages set up and what is the aim of the Charter?

    What is the big problem being faced by the Charter now?

    Why does Alice James think that the Welsh language is alive where she lives?

    For what two things is the Breton town of Plomelin famous?

    Why, according to Guy Le Lay, are people surprised when they go Wales?

    According to Emyr Lewis what is the difference between the Welsh language and Breton and speakers?

    How many regional or minority languages exist in the European Union today?

    What do they need to survive?

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