Language revitalization through optimized learning techniques

Mentor: Dr. Jed Meltzer

Dr. Jed Meltzer

Project Description

My lab studies language processing in adults, with applications to diagnosis and rehabilitation of disorders such as stroke and dementia, second language learning, and the relationship of language to other cognitive and motor processes. Recently we have studied the use of advanced software-based techniques for efficiently studying words, both for people with acquired brain damage relearning their first language, and for adults studying a second language. We would now like to explore the application of this technology for communities working to save or revitalize indigenous languages. We have a detailed work plan for developing an online course teaching the language Ojibwe, in which learners spend most of their time drilling material through an engaging smartphone app. The app already exists, but we need to produce the language material to plug into it. I am looking to partner with an undergraduate involved in language revitalization who has prior experience with the Ojibwe language (any dialect). The project will involve writing lesson material (according to a template that we will provide), light programming and testing of software (prior experience helpful but not necessary), and engaging with community members to verify the material and pilot its use in instructional settings.

Mentorship Statement

As a language-learning enthusiast, I have taken a deep dive into learning Ojibwe and Mohawk in the past few years, and have developed relationships with communities, teachers, and activists working on teaching and revitalizing these languages. I have a vision to create specific resources that will help in this mission, grounded in the latest science of adult language acquisition. To make it a reality, I need to work with emerging scholars from the relevant communities. SROP seems like a perfect opportunity to push this project forward while developing the career of a future leader in the field of language revitalization. The student will also have the opportunity to learn about the other research we do in our lab, and see connections between language learning and optimizing adult brain health.

Project ID 127