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Indigenous Languages of Americas  

The first language of tens of millions of people throughout the Americas is the language of their non-European ancestors. There are hundreds of native American languages and tens of thousands of dialects. Some are spoken by millions - but most are endangered and many are extinct.
Each language opens a window to a new reality reflecting the accumulated knowledge past down over of hundreds or thousands of years.

The study of indigenous languages is rewarding yet may pose a bit of a challenge.

- Teachers may be professionals who do not speak the target language as a first language ... or nonprofessional native speakers who lack training in the teaching of their language as a foreign language.

- Total immersion including homestays with native speakers may not be available - or, if available, may entail living in a rural village without plumbing, utilities or modern medical facilities. Sometimes, combinations are possible whereby you initiate your study of the target language in a city (perhaps living in a native Spanish speaking household), and then transition to a rural village for total immersion including living with native speakers.

- The goal of local facilitators is often to preserve the indigenous language and cultural values. There may be conflict if the student's agenda is to change local values.

- Indigenous languages listed below are dynamic, living languages which vary geographically. If you need a specific dialect or application, please state that on your application form (ideally in both English and the target language).

- Administrative delays. Since the number of foreigners who learn indigenous languages is limited, there is often a lack of continuity between training events. As a result, training resources may have to be reassembled. Allow amply time when planning this type study.

Notwithstanding the challenges, it has been our pleasure to have coordinated courses in eleven native American languages over the years with positive outcomes. We welcome your participation in these programs.


Languages and Teaching Locations

SPOKEN BY: About 2,000,000.
Spanish and Aymara are official language of BOLIVIA. Also spoken in Argentina and Chile

CLASSIFICATION: Arawakan, Maipuran, Carribean
ALSO KNOWN AS: Caribe, Carib
SPOKEN BY: About 200,000 in HONDURAS, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize

ALSO KNOWN AS: Avane’e, Alama, Bobonaza, Bugre, Chuma, Mbya, Yopara etc.
SPOKEN BY: About 5,000,000.
Guarani and Spanish are official languages of PARAGUAY, also spoken in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil

CLASSIFICATION: Mayan, Lacandon, Mopan Itza
ALSO KNOWN AS: Ch’orti’, Huastec, Ixil, Kaqchikel Itza, K’iche, Mam, Mopan, Tzotzil, Yucatecan, many more
SPOKEN BY: About 5,000,000
Spanish and Mayan official languages of Guatemala. Also spoken in MEXICO, Belize, HONDURAS
NRCSA SCHOOL LOCATIONS: Merida, Mexico and La Ceiba, Honduras (Ch’orti-Mayan spoken in Honduras)

ALSO KNOWN AS: Cabo Sumo, Misquito, Mosquito, Tawira, Wangki
SPOKEN BY: About 200,000 in HONDURAS and Nicaragua (where it is tought in many primary schools)

CLASSIFICATION: Aztec, Uto-Aztecan
ALSO KNOWN AS: Huasteca, Nihuatl, and many more
SPOKEN BY: About 3,000,000 in Central and Eastern MEXICO
NRCSA SCHOOL LOCATIONS: Cuernavaca and Queretaro, Mexico

ALSO KNOWN AS: Alama, Apolo, Bobonaza, Chuma, Margos, Tigre and many more
SPOKEN BY: About 5,000,000.
Official language of BOLIVIA and PERU. Also many speakers in Chile and Ecuador
NRCSA SCHOOL LOCATIONS: Cuzco, Peru and Sucre, Bolivia

CLASSIFICATION: Oto-Manguean, Zapotecan
ALSO KNOWN AS: At least 58 related languages
SPOKEN BY: About 500,000 in Southern Mexico


The Academic Program

The format of instruction is one-on-one with 20 tutor classes per week. If there are several students at the same level, some of the classes may be semi-tutor. When registering, include a note outlining your level and experience in the language to be studies and your expectations. This information will be used to determine if there are available teachers for your level and also to tailor your academic and cultural immersion program to the extent possible.
All instruction is totally in the target language with the emphasis on speaking and comprehension. Information about cultural practices and norms will be integrated into the language classes. There may be some assistance in Spanish at some locations but no assistance in other languages.
Upon arrival, you will have a placement interview after which classes will begin with teachers or para-teachers (see teaching note above). Depending on local resources, Classroom instruction may be combined with site visits with native speakers to enhance the immersion aspect of the program. In the event of site visits, there may be additional transportation and related costs.
Students often combine classes in the study city with independent weekend field trips to small towns where the target language is primarily spoken. The local school staff is happy to provide students with information to facilitate these visits.



Lodging is included with host families. Each student has a private bedroom with breakfast provided daily. When looking for housing, our priority is a) homes with native speakers of the language being studied; b) homes of native Spanish speakers with someone in the home knowledgeable about cultural practices of those whose language is being studied; and c) homes of native Spanish speakers. Usually the first priority is not available in the study city.
Periodically students want (and we can coordinate) lodging in small villages where the target language is primarily spoken. When this can be accomplished, lodging conditions may be very basic and a single bedroom may not be possible (see lodging note above).


2007 Dates and Fees

Indigenous Languages of the Americas   Register  
  2009 Dates: Start any Monday 2009.
  2009 Fees: 1 week: $ 765
  Additional weeks: $ 655

20 hrs/wk. In the Tutor Program, the student is placed with an individual tutor or share tutor for 4 hours per day


Fees Include

20 foreign language classes weekly one-on-one or share tutor
Homestay with single or shared bedroom
Breakfast daily
Culture Program:
Integrated into conversation classes and homestay interaction
Orientation Onsite:
local attractions, how to, do/don't, health/safety, entertainment venues Weekly proficiency goals and progress assessments Emergency Hotline 24:7. Multilingual assistance worldwide Accident-Sickness Insurance up to $10,000 (see deductible and policy conditions for all insurance) Medical Evacuation Coverage up to $25,000
Travel Insurance:
Repatriation, emergency reunion, AD&D Local taxes for included services.
NOT INCLUDED are transportation to, from, within study city, some meals, laundry, entertainment, tours, and personal expenses.


To Register

Complete and return the on-line registration form with your deposit of $140 together with a note regarding your familiarity with the language you wish to study and your study objectives. In ‘Program’ enter the language you wish to study. Allow 7 to 10 days to determine if placement is possible. Final payment is due 50 days prior to start of class.
If you have questions or concerns, please call NRCSA at 414 278-0631 or e-mail


Additional Information

• No maximum age. Minimum age is 18 (often waived if accompanied by an adult).
• Medical: school refers students if needed (medical costs additional).
• Foreign language classes taught entirely in the foreign language (immersion method).
• All levels are welcome (beginner to advanced)
• Tutor is one-on-one (private teacher). Shared tutor is teacher with 2-3 students
• Texts and materials are over $15 per level.
• Class-hour is 45-50 minutes (Most universities use a 50 minute hour).
Lodging & Meals
• Accommodation address sent 7-14 days prior to start of session.
• Lodging ends day after last day of class. Begins the day prior to start of class.
• Lodging/Meal Norms: Middle class by local definition in local study city
• In homestays, meal times and content will vary. See above for what is included.
Cultural Program & Activities
• Cultural and enrichment activities at additional cost.
Insurance --- for study dates prepaid through NRCSA
• 24 Hour Emergency Multilingual Hotline (call collect from anywhere in the world)
• $25,000 Emergency Medical Evacuation
• $10,000 Accident or Sickness ($100 deductible per claim)
• $5,000 Emergency Reunion
• See policy for definitions and exclusions
• Increased insurance coverage available on request and at additional cost.
Please inquire with NRCSA at least 3 weeks prior to departure.


The Academic Program
2006 Dates and Fees
Fees Include
To Register
Additional Information

National Registration Center for Study Abroad
P.O. Box 1393    Milwaukee, WI   53201   USA
Tel: (414) 278-0631    Fax: (414) 271-8884    E-Mail:
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