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FREN-499: Indigenous Language Revitalization

Summer 2015 in Louisiana
Dr. Jessica Kanoski
Dates: July 7- August 11 ( First two weeks in Louisiana)

Course length: 5 weeks (2 weeks in Louisiana)

Language death is a global phenomenon in which a language disappears, and with the loss of speakers comes the loss of culture.   Communities around the world are working to curtail language death in the hopes of preserving valuable cultural heritage.  One such example is found in the United States: Louisiana, a state known for its distinctive culture, has been active in its efforts to preserve and encourage the use of Cajun and Creole French.

In this course, students discover both the linguistic and political environment surrounding Cajun and Creole French, as well as the literary works of a unique community.  During the first part of the course, the topic of language revitalization is introduced in a variety of contexts around the globe.  In the second portion of the course, students receive firsthand knowledge of the mechanics of language revitalization and the reasons driving such efforts.  Students discover both the difficulties and the rewards associated with language revitalization.  The class has the opportunity to learn first hand from those who influence and are affected by these changes.  Meetings with politicians, diplomats, educators, linguists, and speakers of indigenous languages are scheduled during time spent in the field.  Alongside academic texts on language revitalization, students read key literary works from or about Louisiana to gain greater perspective of the critical role of language in culture and develop an appreciation for the written, oral, and musical traditions of Louisiana.

Students in this course

  • meet with speakers of Cajun French and experience life in a Cajun village
  • meet with speakers of a Native American tribe to learn about their language revitalization efforts
  • meet with French diplomats to understand the role of international relations in language revitalization
  • meet with language policy makers and implementers
  • explore the city of New Orleans to find linguistic and cultural artifacts
  • experience the culture in parts of the Old South and the Bayou
  • speak with scholars about Louisiana literature and linguistics


The aim of this course is to develop contextual and critical thinking about language revitalization and the value of language in culture.  Students will do so through both a pragmatic and an artistic approach.

(This course is taught primarily in English.  No prior experience with the French language is required.  French majors and minors complete certain assignments in French.)


2015 Anticipated Program Costs

Tuition: $6408

Airfare: $400 (approx)

Note: Students should wait to purchase airline tickets until instructed to do so, as courses may be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Accommodations and meals: $1000 (may increase depending on individual preferences for accommodations)

Funding is available through SURF, student undergraduate research fund.

For further information on this course and to apply, contact Dr. Jessica Kanoski