I found this statistic after reading up on some current events on Aljazeera, when I came across one of their programs, called “Living the Language.” This multi-part series focuses on various indigenous peoples around the world striving to preserve their endangered languages, and preventing their cultures, casualties to the increasing cultural globalization, from plummeting along with their patois.
One of the segments, called “Australia: The Aboriginal People,” really struck my attention. Australia, once home to over 200 different languages, according to the article, suffers from the greatest rate of language extinction in the world. Today, according to Aljazeera, Australia is only home to 20 of these languages.
The destruction of indigenous languages will only lead to cultural globalization.
Cultural globalization involves the exchange of ideas and values across the entire world, eventually leading to standardization. One of my goals as a teacher is to prevent this standardization by developing my students into “global citizens.” Being a global citizen doesn’t mean that you represent a single culture, rather, it means that you are accepting of the various cultures around the world. I will fail, as a teacher, if I cannot provide this environment for my students, and to fail would mean that I am giving in to the risks of cultural globalization and standardization. Too often, schools do not provide this environment and accept standardization. We should cherish and celebrate the diversity of the world, and to do this, we can show acceptance in the classroom.
Being a global citizen means that one understands that speaking to someone in a language that is understood is different from speaking to him or her in his or her own language. Nelson Mandella stated that the former went to the head, and the latter went to the heart. I couldn’t agree more. Taking away language from a community or culture is like removing the keystone from an arch.
What do you think? What does language mean to you? Could your language be translated into the same context of another?
Please find the video from Aljazeera below. If you have the time, I highly recommend it!