Seventy people gather to discuss the establishment of an Okinawan Language Immersion School
November 29, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo
On November 20, “An emergency meeting to discuss the establishment of an Okinawan Language immersion school” was held at Makishiekimae Hoshizora Community Center in Naha. The organizers were Okinawan Studies 107 (Okisuta 107), a group of the local people who have studied in Hawaii. Seventy people gathered and discussed establishing a school for studying local dialect.
Masahide Ishihara, professor of the University of the Ryukyus, gave a lecture about immersion schools in Hawaii where people are able to study in the Hawaiian language from kindergarten right up to graduate school.
Professor Ishihara explained that the passion of just six native Kauai Island mothers determined to pass on the Hawaiian language to their children was instrumental in the establishment of the immersion school.
Emphasizing the need to maintain local languages, Professor Ishihara said, “Language has a role to play in connecting us to the land and our ancestors. Losing the language means that we lose our relationship with our own land and our ancestors.”
A woman who teaches Okinawan language in Ginowan City commented, “I’ve been teaching the language for three years now in order to hand it down to further generations. If we don’t do this, it will disappear in no time. I want to make use of the Internet to spread the word.”
(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)
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