New Mexico students, teacher create app to save Apache language

New Mexico News

Some New Mexico middle schoolers and their teacher have been working on quite the school project: to save the Apache language. With some help from Google, they’ve created a one of a kind app.

“We are taking the Apache language to the next level,” said eighth-grader Maekquin Fossum.

Students at Mescalero Apache School that have spent the past several months developing the Apache Language app. It’s aimed at teaching the code of the Apache tribe to a younger generation.

“Keep it alive, in the community,” said seventh-grader Angel Enjady. “Most of our elders, they’re going away and so it’s good to start learning it at this age.”

Special education teacher Anna Scott says currently, there are no apps in the Google store designed to teach this version of code.

“It’s so meaningful to them. Something that gives them more appreciation for, and honors their background,” said Scott.

The app has several categories including numbers, phrases and months. Clicking on a word will enable the audio pronunciation and spelling.

Before creating it, Scott had to learn the languages of technology: JavaScript and XML.

“It’s something that I wanted to share with the students because they are always…the technology…they want to use those phones. I saw that as an opportunity to be able to connect with them,” said Scott.

After successfully applying for a scholarship through Google, Scott was able to take courses to implement her new knowledge into the classroom.

“It took me from zero to being able to build an app…full-functional app,” said Scott.

Scott’s students have been collecting Apache words and phrases as raw data, working closely with a tribe elder, and in the process, learning about their culture and technology.

“At first I didn’t really know how to code and this has taught us a lot,” said Fossum.

The free app is designed for Android phones.

Although it’s still a work in progress, Scott says it should be done and ready to use by the end of the school year.

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