ELA hosts and participants in a wide range of outreach events with speakers of endangered languages and with the general public.
ELA volunteers have spent time getting to know the indigenous Mexican population in Corona, Queens, or communities from the former Soviet Union in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. This can be easy as posting flyers and talking to people we meet in the street. In other cases, we reach individuals through community radio, print media and through attending public festivals, such as those for Cinco de Mayo, among others. Our outreach goal is to contact as many speakers of threatened and endangered languages in New York City as possible in order to collaborate with them on projects that can document and support their languages for future generations. At the same time, our volunteers gain an appreciation for these communities, their linguistic heritage, and what is involved in language documentation. In many cases, ELA volunteers have used this experience to gain a footing in the field of linguistics and continue their studies on the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Slowly but surely, we are getting the word out to New Yorkers from all over the globe that there exists an organization dedicated to working with them to support their threatened languages.
We also strive to educate the public about the value of linguistic diversity and the intertwined problems of language death and environmental destruction. We take every opportunity to introduce the public to the various peoples from around the world who maintain their endangered languages and cultures here in NYC. We do this through public events at museums, lectures in middle schools, high schools and universities, as well as other regular events.
Our outreach and education activities have included:
- Last Whispers with Peak Performances and Lena Herzog (October 2019)
- Micropolis with WNYC (September 2019)
- Brooklyn Roots Festival (July 2019)
- The 2019 Lower East Side Language Marathon
- The ELA Record-a-thon at Ideas City Street-Fest
- The Endangered Language Fair at the New York Public Library
- Transnational Voices, an event bringing together indigenous-language radio producers to exchange experience, knowledge, and strategies.
- ELA co-founder Daniel Kaufman spoke at the 2015 Jane Jacobs Forum, and at the 2015 Polyglot Conference about “Documenting Global Languages Locally.”
- The Margaret Mead Film Festival has shown multiple films that represent a call to action to maintain linguistic diversity.
- The Revitalizing Endangered Languages panel at the 2013 PEN World Voices festival and Kexaptun: Poetry in New York’s Newest and Oldest Languages at the 2018 PEN festival.
- … and many more!