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Summer Field School

Applications for our 2018 field school are now open (application deadline March 5th). The program dates for our 4 week summer school are May 26th - June 24th, 2018.

Please contact lsc@umd.edu if you have questions about the field school.

Our summer field school brings students and faculty to Guatemala for a month long trip including two weeks of intensive language classes and two weeks devoted to research. The field school ran for the first time in June 2016 and will continue each summer for both new and returning participants. Research in 2016-2017 was focused on Mayan languages, but the goal is to expand to include other locally relevant research areas, such as public health and nutrition.

Students stay with local families to experience daily life, immersing themselves in the language and culture.

The field school is offered in collaboration with Wuqu’ Kawoq, an NGO which provides healthcare in Mayan languages, and this allows students the opportunity to learn about health and nutrition work in local Mayan communities in addition to working on language research or other projects.

For Summer 2018, the cost for the four-week program is $2675 (which includes accommodation, transportation in Guatemala, meals, field trips, language classes and research mentoring). There may be an option for students to participate only in the two-week Kaqchikel language school, and the standard cost for the two-week program is $1550. There are a limited number of places for the two-week-only option, and priority will be given to NGO workers and interns with Wuqu' Kawoq. We hope to offer reduced program fees to certain groups of participants, including NGO workers/volunteers, Guatemalan residents, and participants who are entirely self-funded.

2017 Field School

Last summer we went to Guatemala for our second annual trip from May 27 - June 25, 2017. In collaboration with the NGO Wuqu' Kawoq, we offered beginner and continuing two-week immersion classes in Kaqchikel. Both classes are taught by experienced Kaqchikel teachers who plan the lessons, provide one-one-one help, and provide language learning materials. Following the two-week classes, University of Maryland linguistics faculty provided mentoring for collecting language data from native Kaqchikel speakers. During the trip, students stayed with local families to gain a better insight into everyday Guatemalan life. Additionally, on the weekends, students and faculty may take field trips to sites where Wuqu' Kawoq is working and assist with their projects.

2016 Field School


Two years ago, participants spent two weeks learning Kaqchikel (one of the more widely spoken Mayan languages in the area) while staying with host families in Tecpán. The following two weeks were spent in nearby Patzún, where students’ research projects focused on the structure and use of the Kaqchikel and Tz’utujil languages.

The group also visited Universidad del Valle de Guatemala - Altiplano (UVGA) to discuss the field station and research projects, and received a return visit from UVGA students to the Kaqchikel class in Tecpán.


Participants’ experiences

In 2015, before the Field Station officially opened, UMD undergrad Neomi Rao visited the prototype of the station and wrote about the trip on her blog. This year’s participants also recorded their experiences on a group blog.


Student comments on the 2016 field school:

“I really appreciate being welcomed in to the home of a Guatemalan family.  It is certainly opens up a new perspective on the speaking community, example of the simple day-to-day language use, their challenges in fitting in with other languages, and keeping their own language alive."


“So often in research we rely on a small set of sample data to extract language-wide specifics and typological comparisons to other languages.  This is usually the extent of the depth of data available.  Even when we have a native speaker helper, questions are generally targeted to a very specific inquiry.  I feel very privileged and empowered by the opportunity to learn the language in an immersive, comprehensive environment from native speakers in their own element.”


“I spoke no Spanish beyond “Cómo se dice …” on the first day–and of course I spoke no Kaqchikel, so communication with my host family was quite difficult. Kaqchikel class, too, was stressful at the start, because the class itself was conducted in Spanish. Despite all these difficulties, I quickly acclimated to the new environment. My host family was patient as I pantomimed “shower,” and taught me some basic Spanish. The Kaqchikel teachers, too, were patient and supportive, enabling me to learn both languages…. Inside our host families’ homes, and outside of them, we learned about Guatemala, its history, and cuisine. We learned about Kaqchikel cosmology, and the intricacies of weaving güipiles, and the potential for cultural appropriation associated with buying the beautiful textiles."


For more information about the field school or other opportunities at the field station, please email us at lsc@umd.edu.