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Mayan Language Institute

June 20 - July 29, 2022
Applications due March 11, 2022

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A NOTE ON COVID-19: The Stone Center for Latin American Studies is closely monitoring the global health situation. While our preference is to conduct the program in-person as described below during Summer 2022, we are exploring alternative options (including online options) in case travel remains risky.

The Mayan Language Institute is a 6-week program to train students in either Kaqchikel or K’iche’ Maya, two of the most widely-spoken Mayan languages in Iximulew (Guatemala) today. Thanks to the collaboration between U.S. American faculty and Maya teachers, participants can study at the beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels of either language. The program’s highly individualized classes combine language immersion activities, lectures, one-on-one conversations, guest speakers and cultural excursions. The intensive nature of these classes, combined with students’ daily immersion in Maya communities, enables them to enhance their language skills rapidly while interacting with the Indigenous peoples that sustain them.

Kaqchikel Maya K'iche' Maya Information for Enrolled Students

About Maya Languages and Communities

The Mayan language family encompasses approximately 30 different languages currently spoken by communities in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. Iximulew (Guatemala) is home to speakers of over 22 different Maya languages. K’iche’, with approximately one million speakers, and Kaqchikel, with around a half million speakers are among the most widely spoken and along with Mam and Q’eqchi’ are considered part of “The big four.” Between European colonization and the middle of the twentieth century, these languages were sustained primarily within the intimate spaces of home and community. Starting in the1930s, a push for bilingual education began promoting public use of the languages and creating a need for greater standardization of the languages. This trend gave rise to collaboration between missionaries, government agencies, non-profit organizations to train linguists and create pedagogical materials. The PLFM, founded in 1972, was an early and active participant in this literacy campaign, as it trained local Maya language speakers to write and analyze their native languages. It was the alphabet developed by their scholars that was approved by the Second National Linguistic Conference in 1984 and is currently the official orthography for all 22 local Mayan languages. 

The of violence and discrimination historically suffered by Indigenous peoples, especially during the nation’s civil war (1960-1996), has resulted in a complex relationship between many Maya people and their languages. One the one hand, some remain ashamed to speak them in public or reticent to teach them to their children. On the other hand, decades of activism have led to greater visibility, acceptance, and promotion, at least in the official state rhetoric. Since 2010 the Guatemalan Ministry of Education has required all schools to teach both Spanish and the local Indigenous language, though enforcement and resources remain spotty. Meanwhile, the works of writers, artists, and activists have increased the visibility and respect.

Financial Aid

The Mayan Language Institute has been designed to meet all requirements of the federal FLAS grant, which may cover much of the cost. For more information and to see if you qualify, visit Undergraduate Student Resources or Graduate Student Resources, or speak with the FLAS coordinator at your university. Note: FLAS applicants should apply separately to the MLI by the posted application due date.

Application Requirements

Both Tulane and non-Tulane students at the graduate and undergraduate levels are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be degree-seeking students at their home institutions and in good academic standing with a GPA of at least 2.5. Spanish-language proficiency is strongly recommended. 

Components

  • General Student Information
  • Current Transcript
  • Personal Statement (approx. 500 words)
  • Faculty Recommendation
  • Proof of Valid Passport
  • $50 non-refundable deposit (WAIVED for FLAS applicants who contact the Program Manager at sclassum@tulane.edu)

Application Deadline: March 11, 2022

Questions? 

Contact the Program Manager
Phone: (504) 862 – 8629
Email: sclassum@tulane.edu
100 Jones Hall, Tulane Uptown Campus