This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.
Las Vegas Company Turns City Into A Hub For Reviving Ancient Languages
Published on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 (11:13 a.m.)Las Vegas Company Turns City Into A Hub For Reviving Ancient Languages
Will also announce entry into multi-billion-dollar language-learning market with 3-D video game model that will dramatically accelerate how modern languages are learned
LAS VEGAS – January 28, 2013 – Welcoming tens of millions of visitors from all over the world every year, Las Vegas is a true polyglot city. But on February 5th, there will be a great many new languages spoken in town, 18 ancient ones to be exact: Arikara, Lakota, Blackfeet, Inupiaq, Navajo, Osage, Cherokee, HoChunk, Passamaquoddy, Ak-Chin, Kumeyaay, Wintu, Pit River, Yacqui, Yavapai, Ojibwe, Yakama and Apache. The occasion is a gathering of Native American tribal representatives, who will each receive iPad applications programmed by Thornton Media, a Las Vegas company dedicated to the revitalization of indigenous languages. Tribal members will use the applications to teach their respective tribes’ languages to their younger members. The company will also be revealing details of a new 3-D video language teaching game that will revolutionize speed and retention in learning all languages – indigenous ones as well as Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Mandarin and more.
“This is what we live for” said Don Thornton, president of Thornton Media. “We’ve built custom language tools for over 170 tribes and Canadian First Nations” said Thornton, himself an Oklahoma Cherokee. His company creates these complex language-learning apps quickly by using their own specialized application engine generators. “Tribes are embracing technology to help teach their languages and make them cool again for the Facebook generation. Tribal elders have devoted their lives to keeping alive their sacred languages – which they view as gifts from their Creator to their people. So it is incredibly inspirational and gratifying for them to hear their language on modern technology like an iPad,” he explained.
As a case in point, Thornton cites Dakota-language speakers Diane Merrick and Altina Mace, who for the 2012 Thornton Conference, left the snowy flatlands of the Yankton Sioux reservation in Marty, South Dakota and made the 19-hour drive to Las Vegas. Today, their massive Dakota One Language App has been in the iTunes Store for six months, and it is used daily in school to teach their language. The response from young people on their reservation has been overwhelmingly positive.
It is this experience with complex, indigenous languages that led Thornton to employ 3-D video games as teaching tools. Such games can accelerate language learning by up to ten times over conventional methods (attaining a key proficiency level in as little as 40 hours - far faster than classroom methods). Thornton is launching a new company, focused solely on this market. The company, to be called Talking Games, is seeking to raise its initial investment through a campaign on the famous crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.com. Talking Games’ first major language will be Spanish, with more to follow, and with a percentage of all sales being dedicated to the creation of Talking Games for Cherokee (the first language of Thornton’s mother) and other indigenous languages.
Thornton noted that the language learning space is ripe for innovation: “Today’s leading applications use technology that is from over a decade ago. There are too many boring courses that end up sitting on shelves, whether real or virtual. Talking Games mission in this multi-billion-dollar worldwide market is to make language learning as fun as a game -- because it is a game -- and to increase learning speed and retention well beyond the capabilities of any product in today’s market.”
Thornton Media was formed in 1995. It relocated from Southern California to Las Vegas in 2010, and is the only high-tech language learning company in the world devoted both to the accelerated and better learning of all languages and to the revitalization of indigenous languages.
WHERE / WHEN: Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Chablis Room, Feb 5th 2013, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Best time for photo-op interviews with tribal people between 10:30 am and 11:30 am.