#5  was the only child and perhaps because of that I learned reading and writing early. At first, I learned reading upside-down by watching my father read his newspaper and asking him about the headlines! 

In Chapter 7, Ahearn presents to us research of Shirley Brice Heath on the socialization to literacy of preschoolers in three communities. How did you learn to read and write? Was your experience similar to that of the children from Maintown? From Roadville? From Trackton? Do you think the way literacy events and practices took place at your home helped you or hindered you when you started school? Make sure to address all the components of the topic in your post 🙂


1)  I am a person who had quite a unique experience with books. I had a spectacular experience learning to read and write. Much of what I knew while young came from the lessons I received from my parents, especially my father. He was quite enthusiastic about teaching the letters of the alphabet. Going to pre-school also helped me become better at reading and writing. The singing of alphabetical letters and colors at pre-school made very easy for me to recognize the order and patterns of the alphabet. However, my experience cannot be equated to that of the Maintown. I didn’t have access to many books while growing up both at home at school. We relied so much on the charts made by our teachers in school to learn how to read and write. Things began changing as I got a little bit older as my father could come home with short story books of animal characters and read for me. I paid close attention as the stories were quite interesting and motivating. I remember trying so many times to read the books later. This experience lasted a while as I could still find it difficult reading and spelling certain words. I believe I can relate more to the Roadville scenario as my pre-school had a few books that were having lots of pictures in them. These books helped a lot in learning how to read and write. On the same note, I can’t relate so much to Tackton as I was relatively familiar with words when I began pre-school. All thanks to the efforts of my dad.

2)My parents were very big influences on my learning abilities as well the learning tools that they supplied me.  When my parents dropped me off at daycare, our daycare provider, Linda, worked with all the kids on the basics which definitely helped as well.  Not only did we have adult interaction but we also had other children there to help too.  I also had an older sister that would help me and I looked up to her and wanted to be just like her so I would copy everything I could (numbers, letters, words). 

My experience growing up was most similar to the Maintown children that Health studied.  My family provided me with many books from birth (I am not sure if that is because they were hand-me-downs from my sister or what).  Our bedroom was full of books like Dr. Suess. I believe that the literacy events and practices that took place in my childhood most definitely helped me start school.  I was already prepared with my numbers and letters as well and speaking in “almost” complete sentences and understanding the basics of speaking and listening.  Ultimately I think what was the biggest factor in all of this helping me is that the adults and older children around me helped me become the person I am today.  They took the time to help me learn the basics which then helped me excel in my schooling and beyond. 

#6 Researchers who study endangered languages (Ahearn, Chapter 11, and “The Linguists” video, under “content” => “films”), report that it is notoriously difficult to prevent a language from disappearing even in these cases where there is a real commitment to the language within the community of its speakers. Do you know of an endangered language? Do you have any thoughts about how language loss could be prevented? 

(See an interesting article about NY as a “graveyard” of languages in the “readings” folder)

sample answers

1) There are so many languages around the world it is amazing. There are obviously languages that are very popular like English, Spanish, French, German, etc. and then there are other languages that aren’t as popular and some I probably do not even know exist. I do believe that a language could die but I think it would be a long process. I am from San Diego and aside from English, Spanish is a popular language and I don’t think that language will die anytime soon. I also live by a couple of Indian Reservations and I know some of those people have their Navajo language but I do think eventually that would be a dying language. Even though that language is/was prominent in their community I do think that eventually it might die out when their people aren’t speaking it as much as they used to because now English is so prominent with all the people. I would considered it to be endangered. I think there are a lot of languages around the world that I do not know exist and they are probably very small and I could only guess that those languages will eventually become endangered and die. I say that because people are constantly moving to new places, learning new languages, and eventually when all those people move and migrate the language they bring will fade when they move somewhere where they need to speak a new one. It also does not help that schools today only offer Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, German, Sign Language, and Latin because there are so many other languages than that. I know some teachers teach phrases and words in other languages when doing a unit but those do not cover those small languages. I don’t know any languages that are endangered except the ones I do not know. I do not know if there is anything you can do to prevent languages from dying even with real commitment from within the community. 

2)Language is very vital in any society. It helps people create and share meaning. However, some languages have disappeared and are no longer in use. Even the language scholars contend that it’s quite difficult to stop a language from disappearing. Despite certain languages becoming endangered over time, what can be done to stop the disappearance is still not yet known. I am aware of one endangered language; a language that its speakers and users are dwindling due to one reason or the other. There are many reasons that can cause a language to become endangered. The language that I am aware of and which has become endangered is the Assiniboine language spoken in the United Stated of America. This language can be categorized as one that is critically endangered since its speakers have been reducing quite considerably. It is a native language in Canada and mainly spoken in the areas of Saskatchewan and Montana. Despite the fact that many languages around the world become endangered as the years pass by, it is important to double our efforts in saving such languages. A lot can still be done to revive these languages that once had lots of speakers. Socialization of young children after birth is one great way to ensure that the native language earns new speakers who will continue to spread it many years to come. Documentation of the language grammar and how it’s spoken can also keep the language alive for many years to come.

#7 In chapters 1 and 2, Ahearn summarizes six examples of research in linguistic anthropology. If you were to do research in linguistic anthropology, what topic would you like to research? What interests you about the topic? How would you go about researching it? You may want to post on this forum toward the end of the session when your understanding of linguistic anthropology will be more comprehensive.

sample answers

1) If I had to do research in linguistic anthropology I would like to do research in bilingualism or multilingualism. I find it so fascinating that some people can speak two or more languages. I think it is so amazing that someone can learn all the grammar and words of more than one language. I remember in high school I took Spanish and it was hard because things are grammatically different in Spanish. My Spanish teacher was also from Colombia and she came to America knowing no English at all and had to learn it all on her own. Now that is impressive. 

As for conducting research I would love to get people who had to learn a language on their own and see how they go about it. Where do you even start? Something else I want to research is when you come from a family that speaks two or more languages what language do you learn first? Does one parent talk to you in one language and one parent the other? I would love to talk to some kids and see if it is hard for them or if they find it easy? Do they struggle in school if they know one language more than the other? All of that seems so interesting to me. I want to know if people who speak two or more languages ever mix their words when speaking to different people. 

I find this whole topic so fascinating because I think it is incredible that some people can speak multiple languages fluently. I feel there are so many ways to go about research but those are just some of the ideas I can think of. 

2)One area in lingustic anthropology that sparked my interest is bilingualism. Worth noting is that bilingualism is a common in all parts of the world. This is due to the increased globalisation which has led to the interaction and even intermarriage of people from different part of the world; who also speak different languages.

The topic of bilingualism is very wide and so I would like to specifically look at effects of bilingualism in the language acquisition of young children. I would like to research on this topic because I know of a couple where the man speaks English and German while the lady speaks Slovak and German. The lady speaks Slovak to their daughter while the man speaks English to their daughter. The couple, of course, converses  in German because it is their common language and their little daughter hears them speaking German together.My interest is on how living in such an environment affects the languages skills of the child. I believe that in such a case, bilingualism would not be a very positive thing because it only confuses the child. In fact the existing literature on the same suggests that a child living in such an environment would pick up a second language but only up to the age of 5 after which his or her speech becomes affectedDeeper research in this area will help such couples learn how to related with their children to ensure that their speech is not affected.

#8 Hi all, we have several films concerned with language and language issues in “Films” folder under “content” on BBLearn. Select one of the films (of course, you are welcome to view all of them). In your post, say what was the new thing you have learned from the film. It may be a fact as well as a way of looking at things, a perspective, and argument. Or is there anything that you disagree with? I will be able to grant you 10 bonus points per post, up to two posts 🙂 Bring it on! The forum will close down at the same time as all the others.

sample answers 

1) The first film that I watched was “The Linguists”. This film focused on the extinction of many of the languages in the world. 

One thing that was interesting to me from the film is how when major global languages are spread, they add to the extinction of other languages. I had never really thought about that before, and it was intriguing to see how everything affects each other and what key aspects play a role in extinction. 

2)The second film that I watched was “The Language Healers”. This film focused on Native American languages and why it is important to keep them alive.

One thing that I found shocking was that individuals could be punished in TODAY’S society for speaking their Native Language. For example, there was a young girl in Wisconsin who got in trouble for speaking just a few words of her Native Language at school. I couldn’t believe that people are still punished today for speaking their Native Language


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