Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 27, 2001 - Issue 28



Navajo Language Course Offered to


New Mexico State University Students


by Amy Barnhart The Round Up New Mexico State U


LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State University students can take advantage of a language program not offered at most universities.

Two Dine language classes, beginning and advanced, are being offered this semester to students at NMSU. According to Dolly Manson-Montoya, a Navajo and the instructor of the classes, Dine is the name for the Navajo language.

Manson-Montoya, who is working on her doctorate in special education, said she read about the Navajo language class being taught at NMSU from a newspaper called the Navajo Times while she was at home on a Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona.

When she returned to NMSU, she inquired in the department of language and linguistics and discovered a teacher for the course was needed. She was given the job and the first Navajo language course was offered in Fall 1999.

Manson-Montoya said she did not teach the course that year, but instead monitored a long distance learning class, which was taught via satellite by a person in Albuquerque.

In Spring 2000, she taught a beginning Navajo language class on her own and taught an intermediate class last semester.

Manson-Montoya said the introductory class focuses on the vowels and consonants of the language and learning the sounds and the vocabulary.

"One word could have low tones or high tones and have two completely different meanings," she said.

Manson-Montoya said in the future, with more money, they can go into other aspects of the program.

"We still do not have a program for those who are very fluent," she said.

Manson-Montoya said although there are only language classes being offered now, there is a possibility that classes for those who can speak Navajo but not write or read it will be offered in the future. She said a class on the Navajo culture is also a possibility.

"The language is one with the culture," Manson-Montoya said. "Basically, it is an oral language."

She said Navajo became a written language around the 1930s or 1940s, using the English alphabet.

The beginning class is offered this semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 10 a.m. and the advanced class is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:30 to 1:20 p.m.

"We would love for people to enroll," she said. "It is open to everyone who is interested in the class."

NMSU Navajo Language Course Info

(C) 2001 The Round Up via U-WIRE




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