Navajo textbook adopted in New Mexico

Filed under: Day Care & Education

Cover of the Navajo language textbook, Dine Bizaad Binahoo'ahh, or Rediscovering the Navajo LanguageAround here, the popular language for high school kids to study -- at least back when I was in school -- was Spanish. With a large Hispanic community, it was far more useful than the available alternatives -- French and German. These days, however, linguistic choices are much wider, with Chinese, Japanese, and Russian on the menu. In New Mexico, you can add Navajo to that list.

In fact, New Mexico has just approved a new Navajo textbook for use in the classroom, the first time a state has officially adopted a textbook in the Native American language. "Overall, we believe it will help improve academic achievement," said state Education Secretary Veronica Garcia. Navajo is one of seven American Indian languages taught in New Mexico and is available in about ten school districts. Last year more than five thousand students were enrolled in Navajo language classes.

The textbook, Dine Bizaad Binahoo'ahh, or Rediscovering the Navajo Language, begins each chapter with a cultural lesson and contains photos of life on the Navajo reservation which includes parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.

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