Did you know that you can learn over twenty-five languages at CU Boulder? More information about these for-credit language courses and degree programs (majors, minors and certificates) can be found on the CU department websites below. Looking for non-credit and non-traditional options? Check out ALTEC's language classes and DILS programs.
Asian Languages and Civilizations: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi/Urdu, Japanese, Korean
Center for Asian Studies: Indonesian
Classics: Ancient Greek, Latin
Continuing Education: Spanish
French and Italian: French, Italian
Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures: Danish, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish
International English Center: English
Jewish Studies: Hebrew
Religious Studies: Sanskrit
Spanish and Portuguese: Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish
Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences: American Sign Language (ASL)
The Ethnologue catalog of world languages, one of the major resources for information on world languages, currently lists 7097 living languages. Approximately 40 of those have more than 1 million speakers. Most universities cannot offer the top 40 languages, and indeed, the same is true for CU Boulder. As a way to compensate for this, ALTEC has teamed with CU departments to offer Directed Independent Languages Study (DILS) courses.
DILS courses can be for- or non-credit and are tailored to student groups interested in studying languages not currently offered in a traditional classroom, including graduate students whose research depends upon use of one of the languages not taught at CU Boulder. DILS courses put more emphasis on the student studying the language on their own under the direction of their instructor. DILS courses vary each semester and have included Czech, Danish, Dutch, Hungarian, Nepali, Polish, Tibetan, Turkish, Swahili, Thai and Yiddish in the past. Current DILS options include:
Indonesian (for credit) through the Center for Asian Studies and made possible by the Graduate School and Fulbright Badan Bahasa Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program
Swedish (for credit) through the Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures and made possible by the College of Arts & Sciences and The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation
As part of ALTEC's commitment towards the learning of less commonly taught languages (LCTLs), ALTEC has partnered with the Center for Asian Studies (CAS) at the University of Colorado Boulder to produce online open-access instructional materials for beginner's courses in Indonesian and Thai. This project was made possible with funding awarded to CAS from the U.S. Department of Education UISFL grant.
These courses are supplements to the first semester Beginning Indonesian and Thai Language courses at the University of Colorado Boulder, but may be used as a supplement to any first-year Indonesian and Thai language courses.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
- Find the resources available: books, dictionaries, videos, apps, websites, etc.
- Identify and talk with people that have already learned the language; they can offer tips and help find additional resources.
- Connect with professors in the lLinguistics, Ethnic Studies and Foreign Language departments of the university.
- “I want to learn indigenous languages! How do I start?” - article from “A World With Little Worlds.”
- "How to learn and indigenous language" - YouTube video.
- Russell Hugo, Ph.D. University of Washington Language Learning Center:
- "Contrary to the many anecdotes and articles championing the value of technology for Indigenous language vitalization, there are legitimate concerns, limitations and problems that are rarely given the attention they deserve. It is not that technology is inherently negative in an Indigenous language context (on the contrary, certain tools can be very effective) but simply that there is a considerable risk involved with overestimating the pedagogical or attitudinal value of utilizing a novel technology, especially considering the costs that can be involved (e.g., time, money, other resources). Putting an emphasis on the medium of delivering the language learning content, over the development of larger, more robust content that is not ‘locked’ into a particular medium/format, has been a problematic side effect of novel technologies in the past few decades. For example, much of the time spent making unique content (equivalent to basic flashcards and week 1 introduction lessons) and applications on various devices and formats (e.g., PC, CD, Browser-based, Mobile apps, etc) might have been better spent developing more robust language resources (e.g., full courses and textbooks, language documentation) in standard formats (e.g., XML compliant) that can more readily be ported to new open-source applications/formats as they are developed."
- "One scholar/activist in the Lushootseed Language Community, Zalmai 'Zeke' Zahir, is skeptical of traditional language pedagogy (classroom, textbooks) and believes conversation/speaking practice should be the primary way of learning the language. However, others argue that the lack of perceived success with traditional pedagogical methods is less due to the methods themselves and more of a challenge related to the lack of resources, teacher training and especially domains for the language to be used outside of the classroom. Yet, nearly everyone (if not everyone) agrees that meaningful communication is key to learning the language and a healthy linguistic vitality."
- By learning an indigenous language, one is contributing to the culture and helping to preserve it.
- "Indigenous Languages Explained: What You Need to Know Today" - article August 2019.
- Russell Hugo, Ph.D. University of Washington Language Learning Center: "Learning an Indigenous language differs from learning a more-commonly taught language primarily due to the context. Indigenous languages exist within the context of colonialism, which involves many more challenges and complications but also highlights the importance (politically, culturally, intellectually, health-wise) of language learning and use. For example, there are concerns about usage and education related to theft and exploitation of cultural materials in the past (and even present in various communities) that communities need to balance and can reduce options for, or the pace of, the creation and dissemination of language learning content. While colonialism has created in nearly every situation a severe lack of material resources, a critical challenge is the limited access to domains and spaces where people can use the language meaningfully. If you are studying a more-commonly taught language, such as French, there are countless resources, but also many countries and areas that you can travel to in order to use it and acquire a greater degree of fluency in the language. For many Indigenous language communities in North America especially, it is difficult to find places to hear and use the language within their own community on a regular basis in various domains (e.g., in a coffee shop and at work) due to the intentional eradication of the culture and language by U.S. government policy in the recent past. Additional pressure has been added by economic and political domination motivating the acquisition of English and other more commonly-taught languages."
- Sarah Sweeney, Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL): “I am not an expert on this at all but we have worked on some Indigenous language learning materials and it has taken me a while to figure out the differences, so I wanted to share one thing I learned. Teachers of these languages may emphasize grammar more, even though the field of language pedagogy has moved on from teaching grammar explicitly. I have been told it may be because there is a stereotype about indigenous languages not being real, complete, complex languages. So, the grammar can be a source of pride that shows the language is just as legitimate as the more commonly spoken languages like English or Spanish.”