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Why and how to learn minority languages

by Jessica Gust

If you're interested in learning a minority language, this post is for you. A minority language is a language which is spoken by few people in a given territory. Most of the time, it's overshadowed by the official national language taught in schools.

Compared to popular languages, minority languages present a considerable challenge to those who are interested in mastering them. Still, if you're motivated you'll find myriad creative ways for overcoming them and launching an amazing learning experience that will bring you plenty of satisfaction.

Here's why you should consider learning a minority language and 4 tips to help you start.

Why learn a minority language?

If you like the unusual, learning a minority language can open the door to an unexplored culture and tradition. These languages have low media representation and there's lots of things you'll be able to discover on your own.

If you want to feel like a pioneer, a minority language is a perfect choice. Moreover, by choosing to learn a minority language, you're helping to preserve it together with the rich culture embedded in it.

The effort to learn a minority language pays off when you find someone you can speak to. It's a sign of respect and cultural awareness. If you want to clearly communicate your ideas and gain people's trust, language is your best strategy.

Among the top challenges to learning a minority language are:

Here's how to deal with them:

1. Assess the availability of resources

Minority language resources are scarce, so be prepared for some digging and collecting everything you manage to find. Make a list of all available resources to know what you'll be working with. Mark which ones are available for free and which ones are paid to know how much you'll need to invest.

The list will also help you to assess whether all these materials are enough to help you learn this language. Some obscure languages offer a surprising amount of materials, so don't give up before having a proper look on the web. From quality websites to YouTube channels, line up everything you've got and you'll be able to orient yourself around your materials with ease.

2. Make the most from your resources

Even if they're limited, your resources can teach you a lot. Watching just a handful of videos repeatedly can act as a gateway to mastering the vocabulary and pronunciation of a language. You don't need that much audiovisual material to pick up the intonation and rhythm of spoken language.

3. Reach out to those who managed to learn the language

If the only material you found for your language is a translation of one text, don't worry – it means that there are people out there who already mastered it. Get in touch with them and ask for advice or resources for learning the language. Most of the time, they're passionate about these languages, so they’ll be really happy to help you out.

4. Get in touch with university professors and linguistics departments

Another great source of information are specialists in obscure languages residing at linguistics apartments at universities. Have a look at university websites to figure out who might know your language. Check Google Scholar to see who published on the language too. Take the name of these experts and check them on Google. Get in touch with them and you might find an amazing source of learning materials.

If you're learning a minority language, chances are that you'll become a trailblazer for others interested in the topic. Share your knowledge on a blog and you're bound to make lots of new friends interested in the language, helping you to make your learning experience more social and exciting.

About the writer

Jessica Gust is a Marketing Assistant at Localpeek.co.uk - a new postcode finder. In her free time she enjoys travelling and learning foreign languages.

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