In the Cameroon jungle there is a village with no roads and no electricity (actually, I’m almost positive there would be more than one). In the village there are eight (8) people that speak what UNESCO refers to as one of the planet’s critically endangered languages – Busuu. Busuu is an unclassified Southern Bantoid language.
But now you can learn it over the internet thanks to the savebusuu.org campaign. There is a Youtube driven awareness campaign led by Save Busuu – The Busuu song (English version) with more at the Busuu youtube community. There seems to be an online language learning project linked on busuu.org. Personally, I’m not sure about the quality of online language learning – one part of me thinks it makes perfect sense, I thought that the Learning Indonesian podcasts were excellent – cost free (for the basic version) and at 7-10 minutes each, the perfect length for the busy human. Also, the learn anytime, anywhere aspect of online learning has significant advantages to class based learning. The problem, I guess, is the one of motivation – are the permanently distracted able to learn effectively? I presume the routine of going to a class room and doing homework for a teacher has much better traction than the mental strength and will power of those that are learning themselves at home. I look forward to seeing more analysis of online language learning outcomes.
<edit> After doing some more reading, I’m suspicious of this whole situation. See the difference between the two wikipedia articles Busuu and Busuu language. The first is suspect in that it mentions the company before the language. Secondly, the Busuu language entry states that there were 8 speakers left in 1986 (!) and that more recently in 2005 there were only 3 speakers left. I’m calling shenanigans on this campaign – and I must admit to being terribly disappointed in the cynicism of the Busuu organisation, utilising an endangered language to sell product.