How Travel Can Help Preserve Endangered Languages

In an era where globalization is rapidly transforming the fabric of our societies, a staggering revelation by the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger serves as a clarion call to action. About 40% of the approximately 6,700 languages spoken across the globe today are teetering on the brink of extinction. This figure shows the vulnerability of cultural diversity in the face of changing times and underscores the urgency to prevent further loss of linguistic diversity. Most at risk are languages with fewer than 100,000 speakers, with those spoken by fewer than 10,000 individuals representing the majority of languages under threat.

Such statistics beckon us to explore innovative ways to safeguard our world’s linguistic heritage. Perhaps surprisingly, travel is one way to promote language preservation. Here are some practical ways to leverage your journeys:

Research and Planning: The Foundation of Impactful Travel

When traveling to a destination with an endangered language, it’s important to understand the history and current status of the language, as well as the factors contributing to its endangerment. Do some research before embarking on your journey. Websites, academic articles, and even social media groups dedicated to language preservation can be excellent resources for this preparatory work. On top of that, you should know basic phrases in the endangered language.

Fostering Connections: Engage With Local Communities

Perhaps the most direct way to support endangered languages is to participate in language and cultural immersion programs. These programs offer a structured environment where travelers can learn the language while experiencing daily life as the locals do. You gain insights into the language within its cultural context by living with host families, eating local cuisine, and participating in day-to-day activities. Such immersive experiences aid in language learning and create a deeper appreciation for the culture that sustains the language.

In many communities, you can volunteer with local organizations and initiatives focused on preserving their endangered languages. These can range from formal education programs in schools to informal language clubs and cultural groups. Whether it’s by helping to document the language or assisting in organizing cultural events, the contribution of volunteers can be invaluable. It not only aids the preservation efforts, but also fosters a sense of global community and mutual respect.

You can also support language preservation by attending workshops, classes, and events focused on the endangered language and its associated culture. These events offer an opportunity to learn the language directly from native speakers in a more formal setting. They also provide a platform for cultural exchange, where travelers can share their cultures while learning about others. By participating in these events, you contribute to the vitality of the language by encouraging its use in diverse settings and among people of various backgrounds.

Continued Support: Building Long-Term Relationships 

Establishing ongoing communication with the communities you visited ensures that the efforts to preserve and revitalize these languages extend far beyond the initial visit. You can do this through regular updates via email, social media, or even traditional mail. Such continuous engagement shows genuine interest and commitment to the language and its speakers. It also provides opportunities to share resources, support local projects, and stay informed about the community’s needs and achievements.

Spread the Word: Sharing Your Experiences

You can encourage others to participate in language preservation by sharing the stories of the communities you visited, creating a larger network of advocates and supporters. Travelers equipped with digital tools and social media can play a pivotal role in documenting and sharing the rich tapestry of endangered languages. For example, video blogs can be powerful mediums to capture linguistic content, allowing for the nuances and beauty of these languages to reach a global audience.


Our travel choices can contribute to preserving cultural and linguistic diversity worldwide. While exploring destinations with endangered languages, find activities that allow you to mingle with locals and learn their languages through daily activities. For example, you can volunteer in a local organization.

Moreover, building long-term relationships with these communities ensures that the impact of our travels extends beyond our visit, fostering ongoing support and collaboration that can make a real difference in language preservation efforts. Encouraging others to consider their travel choices in this light amplifies the potential impact, creating a wave of responsible travelers who are as passionate about cultural preservation as they are about exploration.


Weekly Digest

Subscribe to stay updated

MultiLingual Media LLC