Indigenous Language Revitalization

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Designated Emphasis (DE) in Indigenous Language Revitalization enables interested graduate students already enrolled in UC Berkeley PhD programs to specialize and obtain certification in language revitalization while pursuing a doctoral degree in their home departments. The DE in Indigenous Language Revitalization is not an independent degree-granting program. Students admitted to the program's DE and who complete its requirements will receive a notation to that effect on their doctoral degrees.

The DE in Indigenous Language Revitalization creates an interdisciplinary course of study, drawing together an intellectual cohort that will equip graduate students from various departments with knowledge of the methods, histories, and goals of Indigenous language revitalization and reclamation. The DE emphasizes interdisciplinary coursework and hands-on experience (through practicum or fieldwork credits) that center on the critical methods and histories of the attempted eradication, the persistence, and the revitalization of Indigenous languages in the context of colonization. While the content of the DE primarily focuses on Indigenous contexts in the Americas, it is relevant to Indigenous settings globally. 

The DE draws upon and extends the unique resources available at Berkeley. The Linguistics Department has long been a leader in the study of Indigenous languages of the Americas (and throughout the world, e.g. in Africa and Southeast Asia), also supporting resources such as the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages and the California Language Archive. It has also been a leader in language revitalization. Indigenous community members and speakers teach and study at Berkeley and/or collaborate with Berkeley researchers. Community-driven language work is highly valued and supported. This rich intellectual heritage is the cornerstone of a DE that specifically trains and signals expertise in the area of Indigenous language revitalization. In Native American Studies and Education, courses and faculty research have long addressed the historical and cultural contexts of language loss; educational policies related to language; and the epistemological and cultural values of Indigenous languages. A critical mass of faculty and graduate students with shared interests in Indigenous language revitalization are working in linguistics, education, Native American studies, classics, music, romance languages, environmental sciences, biology, and anthropology. 



Graduate students are invited to apply to the DE after completion of their first year at Berkeley. The application consists of the following:

  1. A completed DE application form
  2. A short statement (up 500 words) describing the applicant's interest in the DE and how it fits into his or her graduate studies and research goals
  3. An unofficial transcript of coursework at Berkeley
  4.  A current C.V.

  5. A brief letter from the applicant's faculty advisor endorsing participation in the DE, sent under separate cover

All materials should be sent as email attachments to Johnny Morales Arellano ( Applications are due each year on November 2, and the Executive Committee meets to review the applications and make admissions decisions shortly thereafter.

For further information regarding admission to graduate programs at UC Berkeley, please see the Graduate Division's Admissions website.

Designated Emphasis Requirements

Core Course

Each student is required to take LINGUIS 251/LINGUIS C251A/EDUC C251A. This course draws components from each of the three core departments, focusing on historical contexts for language loss and challenges for revitalization; specific methods and theories for working with linguistic materials and collaborating with indigenous communities and speakers; and examining the results of language revitalization in cultural, linguistic, political and aesthetic terms. The course must be taken for a grade. (Another course can replace LINGUIS 251/LINGUIS C251A/EDUC 251 in special circumstances approved by the DE Head Graduate Adviser.)

Elective Course

Each student in the DE must take one elective course (that is not in the student’s home department), chosen from the following list of courses:

ANTHRO 122AArchaeology of the Americas: Archaeology of North America4
ANTHRO 122FArchaeology of the Americas: California Archaeology4
ANTHRO 124APacific Cultures: Archaeology of the South Pacific4
ANTHRO 149Psychological Anthropology4
ANTHRO 174ACCalifornia Historical Anthropology4
ANTHRO 179Ethnography of the Maya4
ANTHRO 240AFundamentals of Anthropological Theory5
ANTHRO 240BFundamentals of Anthropological Theory5
ANTHRO 270BSeminars in Linguistic Anthropology: Fundamentals of Language in Context4
EDUC 146AEducation and Migration: Indigeneity in Yucatan and Its Diaspora6
EDUC 188BNative American Education: Critical Issues and Possibilities3
EDUC 188FLanguage, Race, and Power in Education3
EDUC 240BTheoretical Issues in the Study of Literacy3
EDUC 241BLanguage Socialization3
EDUC 241CNarrative across Learning Contexts3
EDUC 241DPerspectives on Classroom Discourse3
Ethnic Studies
ETH STD 250Research Seminar: Selected Issues and Topics4
LINGUIS 100Introduction to Linguistic Science4
LINGUIS 154Language Revitalization: Theory and Practice3
LINGUIS 175American Indian Languages3
LINGUIS 240AAdvanced Field Methods4
LINGUIS 240BAdvanced Field Methods4
LINGUIS 245Anthropological Linguistics3
LINGUIS 255Advanced Sociolinguistics3
Native American Studies
NATAMST 190Seminar on Advanced Topics in Native American Studies1-4

With approval from the DE Head Graduate Adviser, a student may fulfill the elective requirement through another course (including courses at Stanford or UC Davis as appropriate) or through a 299 Reading and Conference course. Students should note that some of the courses above have prerequisites which would also have to be satisfied.


Each student in the DE must complete a field project ("practicum") related to language revitalization, a hands-on project, under the supervision of a DE faculty member. This may be carried out through a structured program, including, but not limited to, the American Indian Language Development Institute; the Breath of Life Institute in Berkeley or Washington, D.C.; and the Northwest Indian Languages Institute. A field project can also be organized directly in collaboration with speakers, teachers, or language activists; tribal language programs; other governmental language programs; or other entities. The practicum should involve work equivalent to 2–4 semester units (45-90 hours) as approved by the DE Head Graduate Adviser.

Qualifying Exam and Dissertation

The student’s PhD Qualifying Exam Committee and Dissertation Committee must include at least one member of the Indigenous Language Revitalization Graduate Group core faculty. The dissertation project must address or engage with issues or methods in language revitalization in some substantive manner, from some academic perspective. The representative DE committee member will evaluate the substance of the material.

Contact Information

Graduate Group/DE in Indigenous Language Revitilization

1203 Dwinelle Hall


Phone: 510-643-7224



Beth Piatote (English, Native American Studies)

Head Graduate Advisor

Line Mikkelsen (Linguistics)

Linguistics Graduate Student Services

Johnny Morales Arellano

1207 Dwinelle Hall MC#2650

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