In light of the decline in individuals identifying as Mayan speakers in Yucatán, the Municipal Institute for the Strengthening of Maya Culture is working on various strategies to promote the use of this mother tongue in academic and work settings. Courses and workshops for instruction, enrollment for which opened on August 8, are among these strategies, according to the head of the department, Marcos Pech Naal.
What is the situation of the Maya language in Yucatán?
According to the latest INEGI census of 2020, there has been a decrease in Mayan speakers. Therefore, we are concentrating our efforts to reverse this trend, analyzing what can be done to bring projects to other areas, in addition to classes.
How significant is this reduction?
Between 2015 and 2020, there was a drastic drop in the number of people who consider themselves Mayan speakers; we’re talking about a 10 percent loss, as people prefer to speak another language, mainly Spanish, which dominates in all areas of Yucatán.
What is the reason for this?
There’s a significant loss in intergenerational transmission, which is why we want to introduce workshops in primary schools, preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, and college, to gain ground.
What are you doing to change this situation?
As an institute, we’re presenting various proposals and projects to ensure this offer isn’t limited to the city alone. The courses should also reach the Mérida suburbs and cultural events like “Noche Blanca” and the International Book Fair (Filey), so that the Maya language continues to gain spaces.
Any specific action you can mention?
Primarily, as an institute, we’re aiming for the Maya language to be present not only in academics or teaching Maya, but also in all spaces. That’s why we’re training municipal staff so that government offices can accommodate Maya-speaking community members, as well as municipal police.
Where are the classes conducted?
We offer classes at the Municipal Institute for the Strengthening of the Maya Language, located across from the La Ermita de San Sebastián Park, and we will soon have a new space at the “José Martí” Cultural Center in the Americas Park. Additionally, we will soon open another center at the “Casamata” Cultural Center in the Miraflores neighborhood.
How many people can participate in these courses?
Between the three spaces we’ll be utilizing, we’re anticipating being able to accommodate around 300 people solely for this school year.
How many individuals have completed the courses?
The institute is four years old, and during this time, we’ve had around 150 students certified by the Ministry of Education for vocational training and as Maya language interpreters. We also have students from practical expression and comprehension workshops.