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Minority Languages and Cultures Project


Our courses provide students beginning lessons in speaking, writing, and reading Maya, as well as the basic tools to language learning in Maya and an introduction to cultural-historical contexts of the Maya. The instructor, Quetzil Castañeda, CLACS Lecturer, brings over 20 years of research experience with the Maya into the classroom as a basis to understand how to use the language within social and cultural contexts. Ethnographic films are used in the class to discuss cultural norms and ways of living among the Maya.

Courses are simultaneously taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Graduate students are required to complete a few additional assignments in order to qualify graduate level coursework according to the criteria and stipulations of Indiana University. The core reading materials are comprised of the "Spoken Yucatec Maya Language Lesson Book" prepared at the University of Chicago. Beginning Maya I uses lessons 1-6 and Intermediate Maya II uses lessons 7-12. Advanced Maya III uses lessons 13-18. Additional readings include the book "Maya Verbs" by Victoria Bricker and Refugio Vermont Salas which provides complete conjugation models for all types of verbs (transitives, intransitives, etc.) as well as a core dictionary of verbs. Additional materials include articles by Bill Hanks on deixis or reference, different types of dictionaries in (a) Maya-Spanish, (b) Maya-English or (c) Maya-Spanish-English, as well as published and unpublished explanations of grammar and verb models, socio-linguistics, etc. It is not required to know Spanish to take any of the Maya language courses. However, knowing some Spanish will be helpful and along the way you certainly will learn some Spanish.

Course Offerings

  • LTAM-M101/M501 Elementary Maya I (4 cr undergrad/3 grad)
  • LTAM-M102/M502 Elementary Maya II (4 cr undergrad/3 grad)
  • LTAM-M201/ LTAM-L 527 Intermediate Maya I (4 cr undergrad/3 grad): In Intermediate Maya I, students will improve their listening and comprehension skills, learn more complex grammatical constructions, and gain a deeper understanding of Mayan culture. P: grades of C or better in Elementary Maya I & II or equivalent proficiency.
  • LTAM-M202/ LTAM-L 527 Intermediate Maya II (4 cr undergrad/3 grad): In Intermediate Maya II students will further develop their conversation skills, practice reading/writing using contemporary Maya orthography, and continue their exploration of Mayan culture and history. P: grade of C or better in Intermediate Maya I or equivalent proficiency.