The Child Health and Indigenous Language Development (CHILD) working group is comprised of academic, professional, and community members from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, including early childhood development, language acquisition, linguistics, public health, education, psychology, statistics, and indigenous studies, among others. Very little is known about how language learning and development progress in the unique contexts of marginalized, revitalization, and heritage language situations. We seek to encourage, empower, and recognize the positive actions and critical research that is occurring in these unique contexts.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF #1500720), Ruth Rouvier convened a working group which met to explore current research concerning young learners (ages 0-5) in these challenging language contexts. The initial goal was to consider how ongoing practices not only promote language (re)learning but also provide extra-linguistic benefits influencing social, emotional and physical well-being among young children, their families and communities. This meeting produced a white paper titled, “Language Documentation, Revitalization, and Reclamation: Supporting Young Learners and Their Communities,” which discusses existing research and practices, and recommends next steps to support community actions to maintain, restore, and reclaim their languages. Through this overview of existing knowledge, our group aimed to lay a foundation for future research to share and enhance the outcomes and benefits of language documentation and revitalization practice.

Additionally, one of the barriers we identified to pursuing this work is the limited opportunity to communicate and share research with allied researchers and practitioners across our diverse disciplines and professions. We are developing a variety of tools to address these challenges, including creating a bibliography of relevant literature and a listserv to support ongoing collaboration and resource-sharing. We are also planning additional future collaborative endeavors (e.g., meetings and research projects).