The purpose of the Diné Language Teacher Institute (DLTI) cohort program is to support the unique needs of Diné communities to revitalize and sustain their languages by increasing the number of Diné language teachers. UNM’s College of Education and Human Sciences, Native American Studies, and the Department of Linguistics Navajo Language Program will offer 18-hours of UNM coursework with a specific focus on using language immersion methodologies for Diné language revitalization in community and school-based settings.

These courses specifically address Diné language immersion teaching that draws upon the tribal strengths of Diné communities that utilize Diné-centered community based (k’é) approaches to language teaching methodologies, pedagogies, and research. The 18-hour course work includes the following 6 courses.  

  • Native American Studies: (3 credit hours)
    NATV 462: Native American Oral Tradition and Language Reclamation (graduate or undergraduate credit) OR NATV 2315: Indigenous Language Revitalization and Community renewal (undergraduate credit).
  • Navajo Language/Linguistics: (6 credit hours)
    NVJO 315/515 – Advanced Navajo (Navajo for Speakers); NVJO 401/501 – Navajo Linguistics
  • Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies (LLSS) (9 credit hours) – LLSS 449 –Teaching the Native Language to Native Speakers (Diné Community Language Advocacy and Engagement); LLSS 493: Topics: Teaching Native Language in Immersion Settings (Diné Language Immersion focus); LLSS 493 – Topics: Language Curriculum Development for Heritage Languages (Diné language focus).

Studies and research conclude that language loss occurs when two or more generations do not relearn a language (Wong-Fillmore, 1991).  Today, on the Navajo Nation, families and communities are in the second or third generation of children who are non-proficient in Navajo language, and it is increasing at an alarming rate.  A variety of factors contribute to the situation.  They range from the enforced cultural assimilation policies of U.S. federal and state governments, the ethnocentric social and cultural attitudes of non-Native educators and policymakers, the high status of English language, and the enticement of modern popular culture through media and technology that requires the use of English primarily (Crawford, 1995).  As a result, Navajo youth have been steered toward a preference for speaking English only at the cost of losing their heritage language.  These factors have severed the intergenerational transmission of the Navajo language resulting in few Navajo child speakers and a lack of young Navajo language teachers. DLTI takes action in reversing this situation by working with community members and supporting them in their efforts to transfer the language to younger and to sustain the Diné bizaad.

To earn the Diné Language Immersion Teacher Certificate

DLTI students must complete 18-credit hours of courses (listed above) and add another 12 hours of courses by transferring credits from other institutions or by completing an additional 12-credits at UNM in Linguistics, Navajo Language Program (NLP), Native American Studies, or Language Literacy and Sociocultural Studies (LLSS).