Languages such as the Sami language, Gaelic, Cornish, Basque and Galician have their own space in the IndyLan app, a project that was born with the aim of users learning minority European languages, but also about their culture.
IndyLan (Mobile Virtual Learning for Indigenous Languages) is a tool with more than 4,000 vocabulary items and expressions, which allows you to learn the different European minority languages through modalities such as vocabulary, sentences, dialogues, grammar, listening comprehension and culture.
Languages do not exist in nothing. They exist in the ecology, in their own environmentKaterina Strani, creator of IndyLan
“Languages do not exist in nothing. They exist in the ecology, in their own environment”, explains the creator of IndyLan, Katerina Strani, which is why she emphasizes the possibility offered by the application to relate cultures and languages, which facilitates the understanding and knowledge of these. For this, he received the support of different institutions such as the Sami Council, the Cornwall Council, the Moviéndote Association (to get closer to the Galician and Basque cultures), and the Finnish company Learnmera Oy.
However, the project, which was started by a British university receiving European funding, will no longer have the financial support of the Erasmus+ Program, from which it received that help to stay active. Euronews reports that a pan-European approach for language learning, including UK minority languages, is now no longer under the remit of the EU. Any future project would have to focus on languages on an individual basis.
“I am very sad that we cannot continue to develop this”, said Strani to Euronews. The associate professor at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh was the creator of the tool, who saw the importance of promoting these languages after working on the “Moving Languages” project, which offers help for refugees and immigrants to learn the languages and cultures of European countries .
Strani wants to see IndyLan’s future in a positive light. Faced with the lack of funding, the solution they found was for the application to be open source, which will allow “communities to also take it and make it their own and redo it however they want.”
The year 2019 was proclaimed as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (UN Resolution 71178 on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). The steady decline and, in some cases, the loss of such languages, have brought to the forefront efforts for the promotion and revitalization of endangered languages, as well as minority languages in general.
Research by the Australian National University (ANU) has found that of the world’s 7,000 recognized languages, around half are currently endangered. 1,500 are particularly at risk. Mandarin Chinese has the most native speakers, which is unsurprising given China’s huge population, but English is the world’s most widely used language with around 1.35 billion speakers.
The study, published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution, showed the extent to which the world’s language diversity is under threat. It estimates the equivalent of one language is currently lost within every three-month period. But levels of language loss could actually triple in the next 40 years, with at least one language per month disappearing unless measures are taken.