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Where can I learn Zapotec as a second language?

Learn Zapotec

Hi there! My name is Rayo Cruz and I’m a native speaker and teacher of Zapotec. If you would like to learn Zapotec you should join to my online classes.

In 2020 I decided to offer a basic Zapotec course via zoom.

It allows those interested to get to know this language and learn the most basic words and expressions of Zapotec, its characteristics and current situation, as well as its challenges in the contemporary world.

This course consists of 20 two-hour sessions; two classes per week.

In total there are 20 hours of training where participants interact with the language through different activities such as games and songs, as well as the use of interactive tools on the web such as kahoot, quizzlet, classroom, jamboard, etc. 

This course to learn Zapotec is given twice a year: in spring (February-May) and in autumn (August-December).

The schedule and dates of the classes vary each time but are always adjusted to the availability of the participants.

The course is open to the public and is designed for adults who wish to learn Zapotec as a second language.

Classes are also recorded on YouTube so participants can review or catch up if they miss a session.

The Zapotec Basic Course has been running for three years.

So far 200 students have graduated from the first level.

In 2023 we launched the second level so that students can continue to learn Zapotec.

We are also planning to launch (in the long term) a virtual course that can be studied independently.

How much does it cost to learn Zapotec language?

When we first began the course, it had a great response from the public.

We began the pilot program back in October of 2020.

Back then it was 10 sessions and then the next year in 2021 we launched the course again.

This time there were 30 students, and we increased the number of sessions to about 20.

There was a symbolic cost of about 600 pesos which in dollars translates to something like thirty dollars.

We just wish to share our language and culture with others.

Then we did the course twice starting in August and this time there was even more interest.

There were 35 people in the course.

It was the interest that people had that kept our motivation to continue teaching this class.

This course is open to the general public.

Our course is a little bit different from other courses that are available.

There are many courses of Zapotec that are specifically for heritage speakers of the Zapotec language.

This is designed to be open to members outside of the community, outside of the culture.

We want to give people the idea of what the culture is like and how many different variants of the language there are.

Where the different variants are spoken.

Why is Zapotec such an attractive language for people to learn?

There are many people whose parents spoke Zapotec but then as adults they themselves have not continued to speak it.

So, there’s a lot of adults now that are interested in reconnecting to their language but there aren’t enough initiatives to learn Zapotec as a second language.

So through our our initiative of Bëni Xidza we have the opportunity to collaborate and to share our language and culture.

A couple of the organizations that have been collaborative and helping us disseminate our work is one organization called SURCO in Oaxaca that allows us to use their Zoom account.

Another organization that we have aligned ourselves with is called CEU-XIDZA which is a university for members of the community to reconnect to Zapotec and culture.

So, there are many people that are behind this work and I’m the one who is offering the Zapotec classses.

What are the challenges to learn Zapotec as a second language?

Zapotec as an oppressed and minoritized language does not have didactic resources for its teaching and learning as a second language.

Nor as a mother tongue.

There are some isolated and marginal materials that have been created in different spaces and moments, but they do not always correspond to Didza Xidza, the Zapotec language taught in this course.

As it is known, Zapotec is a group of languages, so a material created in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is not useful for teaching and learning Zapotec from the Sierra.

The teacher lacks resources to teach the language and the students also lack materials that allow them to practice, study autonomously and continue to develop proficiency in the target language.

There’s a big difference between teaching foreign languages versus teaching a language that is historically oppressed and has been colonized.

With dominant languages in the world or colonizer languages there are a lot of resources available to learn rules of grammar, to be able to teach them to foreign students.

Unfortunately, in Zapotec it’s much more challenging to find those resources.

There’s a shortage of people who have studied the language in depth and that can be a mentor in learning how to teach the language to others.

It’s like starting from scratch.

It is easier if I want to be able to to teach Spanish as a second language.

But in Zapotec that’s not as possible, so it is also challenging to come across pedagogical materials in Zapotec and while there are a few here and there they’re hard to come by.

How I became a teacher of the Zapotec language?

One of the things that I want to mention is that for myself as a Zapotec educator at first I did not have training in teaching and pedagogy of foreign languages.

So when I first started out, I didn’t have a lot of background in the grammar and syntax of my language.

And so, in order to be able to teach a language it’s really important to understand the rules of grammar in order to be able to pass them on to the students.

I have a BA in Communications and in college I wrote a paper called teaching Zapotec through video to disseminate the language.

Through this work I see that there’s a great deal of interest and people even willing to donate.

Through this support I want to professionalize my work and to be able to offer multiple levels of language courses in Zapotec like level one, two, level three and so on.

This is what we are working on.

We need materials and to be able to develop our own abilities in teaching the Zapotec language to others so we need to further professionalize our work.

That is what we’re working on.

In fact, I went through an MA program in Applied Linguistics and I specialized in language teaching.

If anybody is interested in taking this course to learn the Zapotec language you are welcome to register for the course.

You can also visit our YouTube channel that has a lot of free resources to learn Zapotec language and culture.

How to sign up for the Zapotec language course?

Please contact us on social media. We are on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as Bëni Xidza.

Please take into account that the classes are given in Spanish.

You can also send a message in this form and we will contact you by email.

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