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Course Offer on Indigenous Languages

Bewerbung des Sprachkurses "Yukatekisches Maya" im Wintersemester 2021/22

Bewerbung des Sprachkurses "Yukatekisches Maya" im Wintersemester 2021/22
Image Credit: Harald Thomaß/CeDis

At the Institute for Latin American Studies, courses in indigenous languages have been an integral part of the curriculum for decades. Knowledge of indigenous languages of Latin America is an important prerequisite for appropriately approaching expressions of a culture foreign to us and understanding corresponding social constructions and culture-specific contexts. The focus here is on overcoming Eurocentric approaches, such as breaking down one-dimensional views of our own culture on language(s) and communication situations, which are primarily characterized by written language and formal schooling. This approach is the prerequisite for developing intercultural communication competence.

Students in the Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies Master's program may take the two-semester language course as an elective. Current language course offerings include the following indigenous language:

Yucatecan Maya

Yucatecan Maya, with 750,000 active speakers, is a lively language that shapes diverse lifeworlds on the Yucatan Peninsula. The goal of this two-part course is to be able to read and understand simple texts. The Yucatecan Maya is contextualized ethnographically and sociolinguistically, so that students are not only taught linguistic skills, but also the ethnographic background of the Yucatan Peninsula.


Basic understanding of the grammatical structures of modern spoken Quechua in relation to the lifeworld and world experience of the indigenous population is the focus of the seminar. Quechua is spoken by about 10 million people in the Andean region. Quechua speakers also live in Germany. Colonial texts, modern songs and narrative material form the basis of the seminar. Oral tradition as an instrument of enculturation and the problem of writing down oral languages will be discussed and supplementary materials for further research and application perspectives on Quechua and indigenous languages of the Americas will be recommended. In this context, intercultural communication competence is brought to the fore.