Language Endangerment Can Affect Cultural, Economic, and Spiritual Goals

Language endangerment is a serious concern. For a variety of reasons, speakers of many smaller languages stop using them and begin using another language that may not reflect their heritage. Parents may begin to use only that second language and gradually the inter-generational transmission of the native language is reduced and may even cease. If there are no speakers who use the language as their first or primary language, the culture of the people may be affected.

As we learn from the IMC e-Field Trip, language is constructed on the foundation of the culture. If an indigenous culture is taught to speak a language developed from another culture, the question is what is added and what is lost. How can the impact on the culture be measured?

Language development is the result of the series of on-going planned actions that language communities take so they can effectively use their languages to achieve their social, cultural, political, economic, and spiritual goals. Many native communities are taking steps to preserve the vitality of their languages and to find new ways of using them.

Here is an IMC People Group Fact:

Jula is the trade language of western Burkina Faso and northern Cote d’Ivoire. It is designated by the government to be one of five languages to be developed for literature. 

This graph shows the place of Jula within the cloud of all living languages. Each language in the world is represented by a small dot that is placed on the grid in relation to its population (in the vertical axis) and its level of development or endangerment (in the horizontal axis), with the largest and strongest languages in the upper left and the smallest and weakest languages (down to extinction) in the lower right.

Language Cloud for Jula

  • Purple = Institutional (EGIDS 0-4) — The language has been developed to the point that it is used and sustained by institutions beyond the home and community.

To learn more, visit the International Museum of Cultures. (IMC)

The Talking Drum, from the International Museum of Cultures’ Virtual Field Trip for Teachers

Through the IMC Electronic Field Trip, the museum’s exhibits on indigenous peoples come to life. For instance, a teacher can have students experience the unusual “Talking Drum” without having to leave the classroom.

The International Museum of Cultures has exhibits on the Bimoba people. The Chief of the Bimoba people uses a Talking Drum to announce the arrival of visitors to the village or when the chief wishes to call a special meeting.

When we think of drums being used to communicate, we often think of the drum as a musical instrument. However, many cultures throughout history used them to convey a signal. In addition to signalling, drums have also been used as a speech surrogate. A Speech Surrogate replicates the tone and rhythm of oral speech.

Drums that are used as Speech Surrogates are also referred to as “tallking Drums”. Refer to our previous post on Talking Drums. In that post we highlight Paul Neeley and his book, the “People of the Drum of God – Come”.

Below are excerpts from the dialogue in the International Museum of Cultures Virtual Tour where the Docent refers to the use of a Talking Drum by the Bimoba people of Northeastern Ghana:


Gwen (The Docent speaking to the children that have entered the Museum)

Hello, are you ready to go to Africa? Just follow me…

The Bimoba live in Northeastern Ghana, in West Africa, and there are about 120,000 speakers of the Bimoba language. The Bimoba chief is a very important person.  To become a chief, he must be born into the Bimoba royal family, be popular or wealthy, be married and have at least one child, and he must not have been a criminal, be scarred or disabled in any way.

Ruben (student)

That’s not nice.  I mean if someone had a bad leg or something and couldn’t be king.

Gwen (Docent)

Well, to our of way of looking at the world, you might be right, but we must remember that different cultures have different ways than ours. One main difference in the Bimoba culture is that a chief does not speak directly to his people, nor does he speak loudly.  He speaks to a person called a “linguist”, who speaks loudly on his behalf, refining what he has said.  To speak to a chief, a person addresses the linguist, who is highly regarded because he intercedes between the chief and the people.

(The Docent picks up a drum.)

Gwen (CONT)

This is the “Talking Drum”:  The Bimoba can change the pitch by squeezing the strings that run down the side of the drum.  The chief or the chief’s linguist uses this type of drum to announce the arrival of visitors to the village or when the chief wishes to call a special meeting.


Click on the picture to hear an example of a Talking Drum

Take a moment to hear more of the International Museum of Cultures’ Virtual Field Trip by clicking here. If you want more information about using the Museum’s Virtual Fielp Trip, contact us at  972-708-7406 or send us an email at

Educator’s Preview of New Programs at the International Museum of Cultures

Invitation to Educator's Day at the Intenrational Museum of Cultures

On Saturday, the 21st of January, Educators will have the opportunity to preview the two new programs provided by the International Museum of Cultures.

These programs bring the Museum to your classroom and add a multicultural component to any curriculum.

Join us and see what we have to offer you and your students. If you are unable to attend, do not hesitate to contact us at 972-708-7406 to learn more about our Museum and our educational programs.

Educational Programs from the International Museum of Cultures

International Museum of Cultures walkway

International Museum of Cultures walkway

The International Museum of Cultures is a unique anthropology museum located in Dallas, TX.

All of our anthropology-based educational programs focus on teaching students to respect and understand other cultures. We have a variety of programs that can be easily integrated into your curriculum (science, social studies, fine arts, English language arts, and math)  and are fun and interactive for your students.

Electronic Field Trip

Our Electronic Field Trip takes the traditional field trip experience to another level! The Electronic Field Trip is entirely online and is designed as an interactive learning tool for your students. Several different activities ensure that your students will enjoy learning about others’ lives around the world without leaving the classroom.

It includes:

  •  a series of videos delivered over the Web that provide an entertaining tour of different sections of the museum. The tour focuses on the Peoples of Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea, and Mexico
  • curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, and math.

Discovery Boxes

Discovery Boxes allow your students to experience cultures around the world in a unique and interactive way. Discovery boxes come in 12 different themes and include a variety of objects from our museum’s collection. Your students will be able to touch and examine the objects while completing included activities and worksheets that encourage them think critically about the world around them.

Boxes include:

  • a teacher’s guide with detailed object descriptions
  • curricula covering TEKS for K-12 science, social studies, English language arts, fine arts, and math
  • eye-opening activities that guide your students through understanding the objects

Classroom Programs on Anthropology

Our docents will gladly come to your classroom to introduce your students to the cultures featured in our museum. Docents bring objects from our museum collection to your classroom to allow your students to touch and experience them firsthand. Guided activities provide a flexible and interactive experience for your students.

Museum Tour of Indigenous Cultures

If you prefer a traditional field trip for your students, the International Museum of Cultures is  here to make your experience worthwhile. Our tours are both educational and fun. They can include crafts, interactive activities, and more! We will work with you to tailor your tour to your needs.

Contact the museum

Contact us to discuss how we can assist you and your educational objectives. We will work together to meet your needs and the needs of your students.

Promotional Video of the Electronic Field Trip from the International Museum of Cultures

Electronic Field Trip of a Unique Anthropology Museum

Our new educational products are providing many opportunities for outreach.

The Electronic Field Trip, called IMC Rocks!, is our premier production, presenting a virtual tour accompanied with teacher’s guide and complete curriculum. The e-field trip is delivered over the Cloud from any Web-enabled device. The program meets or exceeds the TEKS in social studies, language arts, music and math. See our promotional video by clicking on the world below:

Electronic Field Trip video from the International Museum of Cultures

The International Discovery Boxes are also very popular. Check them out as well.

For more information Contact Us 

Electronic Field Trip to Africa, South America, Mexico and Papua New Guinea

Press Release: October 20, 2011



The International Museum of Cultures has tracked school group tours over the past three years at several museums and the statistics reveal a 15 to 20 percent drop due to transportation costs.

Educators say students stand to lose out on personal enrichment especially in the wake of deep public education funding cost by the past legislative session.

An alternative, a tour program has been researched and developed into a marketable product for schools and other groups to access.  A virtual tour via an Electronic Field Trip is now available for a fee-based access via the museum’s website.

Museum of International Cultures, Dallas, Texas

The tour may be scheduled by calling (972) 572-0462 for payment and access code.  TEKS were reviewed and the tour covers all areas and provides both a pre and post tour curriculum for downloading that is included in the tour costs.

The first tour covers Africa, South America, Mexico and Papua New Guinea in a 35 minute presentation.  It is divided into four segments should the educators wish focus on one country at a time.

A preview is available for educators who wish to visit the International Museum of Cultures and view the Electronic Field Trip, discuss the curriculum and dialogue with one of the museum’s experience Docents.


Mary Fae Kamm, Director

(972) 572-0462

The International Museum of Cultures


Electronic Field Trip on International Cultures

The Electronic Field Trip from the International Museum of Cultures in Dallas, Texas provides an educational outreach on the subject of indigenous people living in remote areas of our world. The technology-based program gives students an opportunity to tour the museum’s rich knowledge and artifacts on the many cultures of our planet, without ever leaving the classroom.

Included in the tour is valuable curriculum and enrichment material brought into the classroom via fee-based Web access. (Meets TEKS in related fields)

Contact us for details on availability, cost, and delivery methods.

Electronic Field Trip International Museum of Cultures

Electronic Field Trip - International Museum of Cultures

The Electronic Field Trip Includes a 45 minute tour that can be presented in sections.

  • Africa
  • South America
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Mexico

The production of the Electronic Field Trip is made possible through a grant from the Nissan Foundation. Established in 1992, the mission of the Nissan Foundation is to build community through valuing cultural diversity.  The Nissan Foundation is part of Nissan North America’s commitment to “enrich people’s lives” by helping to meet the needs of communities throughout the United States through philanthropic investments, corporate outreach sponsorships, in-kind donations and other charitable contributions.

The IMC has a 30 year history of disseminating knowledge concerning the rich cultural diversity and creativity of indigenous people. This Electronic Field Trip will make this knowledge available to the classroom for all children to enjoy.