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Language Partnership

Vanderbilt — Duke — UVA Partnership for Less Commonly Taught Languages

Interested in studying an endangered language? The College of Arts and Science has partnered with Duke University and the University of Virginia (UVA) to offer students joint instruction in Ki’che’ Maya, Haitian Creole, and Tibetan. This unique effort both helps to preserve these endangered languages for future generations and adds depth to students’ understanding of subjects connected with these languages and their originating cultures.

How It Works

The partnership allows students from across all three schools to learn their chosen language together, through a “telepresence” setup. Each language is based at a different school: K’iche’ Maya at Vanderbilt, Haitian Creole at Duke, and Tibetan at UVA. Students attend class on their respective campuses at the same time and use videoconferencing to interact with each other face-to-face. The course instructor works from the classroom at the school where the language is based.

Note: Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, some or all classes may be taught online or asynchronously. Check course listings in YES for details.

Additional details:
  • All three languages are available at beginner and intermediate level.
  • Classes are open to all Vanderbilt students, including undergraduate and graduate students.
  • First- and third-semester-level courses are taught each fall, and second- and fourth-semester courses are taught each spring.
  • Students both learn to speak the language and study its cultural and historical contexts.
  • Vanderbilt students enroll in language partnership courses through YES, as with any other VU course. Course codes are KICH for K’iche’ Maya, CREO for Haitian Creole, and TBTN for Tibetan.
  • For A&S students, courses numbered 1102 and higher are eligible for AXLE credit toward the International Cultures and foreign language proficiency requirements.
About the Languages
K'iche' Maya


K'iche' Maya is one of the most common indigenous languages in Latin America, spoken by about one million individuals in the western highlands of Guatemala, the heartland of Maya culture. As the language of the Popol Wuj, Mayans’ sacred text, K'iche' Maya is also a language of great historical importance. Because of the precarious status of minority languages in Latin America, classes in K'iche' are also relevant students interested in anthropology, globalization, language planning, multilingualism, language diversity, and linguistic human rights.


Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole, often called simply Creole or Kreyōl, is based on 18th-century French, some African languages, and languages such as Arawak, English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and Taino. The second official language of Haiti, Creole is spoken by 10-12 million people throughout the Caribbean and in the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Ivory Coast, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, parts of the United States, and Venezuela. 




Tibetan is the official language of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is also spoken in parts of China, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Mongolia. Tibetan is the language of Tibetan Buddhism, the source of one of the world's richest contemplative traditions. Learning Tibetan gives students the ability to explore this uniquely rich and diverse culture, as well as learn about Buddhist philosophy, contemplation, and other forms of knowledge.


Contact Us

For more information about the language partnership, contact the A&S Office of Undergraduate Education (