English Exercises > listenings exercises

Dying Languages

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Dying Languages


Instructions: Go to the following link. Listen to the radio program and answer the following questions with the words True or False.

http://esl-bits.net/listening/Media/LanguageDies/



  1. Local languages represent a form of control over a group of people. 
  2. National governments play an important role in the survival of threatened languages.
  3. Some local languages may contain information that is unknown in the scientific world.
  4. In Nivkh letters can be said in twenty-six different ways.
  5. The layers of a language can communicate a culture's history.
  6. The Enduring Voices Project raises money for people to learn endangered languages.
  7. Bolivia, Alaska and parts of Russia are "hotspot" areas for endangered languages.
  8. Ishir, Maka and Nah Ma are three rare languages in Paraguay. 
  9. Technology can help preserve dying languages. 
  10. The English language is a threat to many endangered languages. 
  11. Teaching Hawaiian in schools has increased the number of native speakers.   

Instructions: Read the article and choose the correct word options.

Language at Risk of Dying Out (Adapted from the Guardian).


The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken/spoken/have spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen in/for/off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. And/With/But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it's at risk of extinction. There is/There are/Exist just two people left who can speak it fluently - but they refuse to talk with/to/for each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Valeazquez, 69, live 500 meters apart/within/between in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear because/when/whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know/known/knew them say they have never really enjoyed each others company. "They don't have a lot in common," says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic/lingual/language  anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco. Segovia, he says, can be "a little prickly" and Velazquez, who is "more stoic," rarely likes to leave his home.  The dictionary is part of a race against time to revitalize the language after/while/before it is definitively too late. "When I was a boy everybody spoke it/them/they ," Segovia told the Guardian by phone. "It's disappeared little by little, and now I suppose it might die with me." Suslak says Ayapaneco has rarely/sometimes/always been a "linguistic island" surrounded in/by/with much stronger indigenous languages. Its demise was sealed by the advent of education in Spanish in the mid 20th century, which for several decades included/has included/include  the explicit prohibition on indigenous children speaking anything else. Urbanisation and migration from the 1970s then ensured the break-up of the core group of speakers concentrated in the village. 

There are 68 different indigenous languages in Mexico, further subdivided into 364 varieties/vary/variations . A handful of other Mexican indigenous languages are also in danger of extinction. The National Indigenous Language Institute is also planning a last attempt to get classes going in that/which/who the last two surviving speakers can pass their knowledge onto other locals. Suslak says the language is particularly rich in what he calls sound symbolic expressions that often take their inspiration from nature, such as kolo-golo-nay, translated as "to gobble like a turkey."

Instructions: Identify the best synonym for the words found in the text. Write the synonym in the box provided.

  • fluently
quickly/easily/difficultly/unevenly
  • stoic
detached/anxious/sober/stressed
  • revitalize
distress/provoke/revive/relive
  • advent

departure/end/absence/onset

  • explicit

ambiguous/specific/obscure/vague


Instructions: Go to the Enduring Voices website and find out information about languages that are endangered in Mexico.
http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/enduring-voices/

Names of languages
Unique features of the language
Number of speakers
Revitalization projects