Cherokee language courses taught at U if A

U of A students have the opportunity to learn the Cherokee language from a native speaker.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It’s a language that only a few thousand people in the United States know, but the University of Arkansas hopes to change that by offering students the opportunity to learn Cherokee.

“It’s one of the hardest languages ​​to learn,” they say. It ranks up there with Chinese and Japanese language,” said Cherokee language teacher Lawrence Panther.

This fall will be Panther’s second year teaching the Cherokee language and syllabary to students.

“It’s a lifelong process to learn this language,” he said. “I’m fluent and still learning. Anyone else who’s fluent, they’re still learning too. There’s always room for improvement.”

Panther also teaches his language at Stillwell High School, but last year was his first time teaching at the college level. He asked 15 students to take Cherokee One in the fall and nine to return for Cherokee Two in the spring. He hopes for even more students this fall.

“They learned a lot from what I saw. I was very impressed with how they learned to read and write,” he said.

Nicole Rikard was one of his students who took Cherokee One and Two last year and will take Cherokee Three this fall. She gets her doctorate. in native literature.

“It was a really great opportunity, because the Cherokee Nation is about 45 minutes from my house, about an hour from the university. Then to be told that you can bring a native speaker to the university and be available to you, felt like the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

Panther says it’s essential to keep the Cherokee language alive.

“The language, it’s getting very rare, you know, and there’s only about 3,000 speakers left, but there are many learners learning, but obviously they’ll never be fluent,” Panther said. .

If you’re interested in taking Cherokee, the U of A will be offering two Cherokee One courses and one Cherokee Three course this fall.

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Sylvester L. Goldfarb