7000 Languages is a non-profit that creates free language-learning software in partnership with Indigenous communities around the world.
Research has shown that kids who learn their heritage language have higher self-esteem, do better in school, and are more likely to graduate. But in many communities, the last remaining speakers are too old to teach in schools. Take, for example, Sarah Silas. She’s the last speaker of Benhti Kenaga’ (an Alaska Native language) and she’s 93 years old. Sarah has priceless knowledge, but she can’t easily share it with the hundreds of kids who want to know about their culture.
That’s where we come in. We’re helping Sarah and her community create a free online course. When it’s finished this spring, kids all over the world will be able to learn Benhti Kenaga’ as if Sarah were in the room with them.
Each course would normally cost $200,000 to create, but we charge nothing. Instead, we adapt software donated by the language-learning industry and raise our operating funds from donors who are passionate about language. This means that the funds that would have been spent on software remain in the community, where they can make an even greater impact.
We’ve done the same thing in 15 communities across the US, including the Ojibwe, Cree, and Dakota nations. Next year, we’re set to double our impact, publishing courses for 16 more communities in 2019.
Funded by Boston, MA (January 2019)