Uzbek is a language spoken in Central Asia and Afghanistan, and is only taught at a handful of universities in the U.S. However, this past academic year, Uzbek classes have been held three times a week in classrooms in the Foreign Languages Building here at the University of Illinois.
The students in our class at Illinois came to learn Uzbek for a variety of reasons including research, travel plans, curiosity, and personal connections. In class, we have learned how to barter for cheaper prices on carrots, write in Cyrillic and Latin script, break down words into their morphological components, compare our classmates to Superman and/or Alisher Nava’i, and recognize words and phrases in fast speech and slightly outdated pop songs.
This summer, Uzbek will be offered as an eight-week class through the Summer Institute for Languages of the Muslim World (http://silmw.linguistics.illinois.edu/schedule.html) here at the University of Illinois. Students enrolled in this intensive language class will receive 10 credit hours and will participate in the equivalent of an academic year’s worth of language learning. The structure of the program will also allow for culture and language practice activities. The class is “LING 404: Elementary Uzbek” and will be open for registration after spring break.
I am very excited about teaching this summer course as I can honestly say that teaching class everyday so far has been a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. It has been enjoyable because I have a class full of intelligent and entertaining students. And it has been worthwhile because in teaching and learning Uzbek, we are contributing to a knowledge base of the under-researched region of Central Asia and the diasporic community of Uzbeks around the globe.
We are looking for students to sign up for summer the Elementary Uzbek class this summer. If you are interested in more information about Uzbek or the summer classes, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lydia Catedral is a MA/PhD student in the Department of Linguistics. She researches issues of identity and language in Central Asia, and in situations of conflict mediation. She lived in Uzbekistan from the age of 9 to the age of 15 and currently teaches Uzbek at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.