K'iche' Maya

K'iche' is a biannual program—it will be offered again in summer 2016.

K’ICHE’ at the Mayan Language Institute in Guatemala

K’iche’ is a Mayan language spoken by about one million people in the central highlands of Guatemala. The K’iche’ language has played a central role in the Mayan cultural revitalization movement and has a long literary tradition including such works as the Popol Wuuj (Popol Vuh) and Rabinal Achi. The Maya cultural revitalization movement and the subsequent rise in bilingual education in Guatemala have resulted in a number of interesting changes in both language structure and use, and have had important social and political implications for the cultures that speak the K’iche’ language.


The Mayan Language Institute is an intensive 6-week summer immersion language program in K’iche’ Maya and Kaqchikel Maya. Students study with both U.S. faculty and native speakers. In addition to language study, students participate in cultural activities, lectures, discussions, and excursions. Graduate students may study one of the languages at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. Undergraduate students must be prepared to study at the intermediate or advanced level.

With more than 1.5 million K’iche’ and Kaqchikel speakers in Guatemala, the goal of the institute is to help students develop and advance proficiency in their chosen language and to gain a better understanding of the cultural and political contexts that have affected the historical development and preservation of the language. Efforts to protect these languages are playing a pivotal role in the Mayan struggle to regain control over their political and cultural destiny.

Students pursuing K’iche’ Maya will spend three weeks in Antigua and three weeks in Nahualá.  All students are placed with local families for home-stays. Students should be flexible and prepared for living conditions in Guatemala.


Applications for summer 2016 will be made available in fall 2015.




The University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies, in partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, University of New Mexico Latin American and Iberian Institute, Tulane University's Stone Center for Latin American Studies,  and the University of Texas at Austin's Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, offers a summer intensive immersion language program in K’iche’ Maya and Kaqchikel Maya on site in Guatemala. In the summer 2012, the Institute offered K'iche' instruction at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.


Students will receive 6 credits from Tulane University for: Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced K’iche’ Maya language (3 credits) and K’iche’ Maya Culture (3 credits).

Enrollment is limited. Undergraduate students will be admitted only with consent of instructor. Students are encouraged to apply early.


Students are responsible for their own travel and airfare to Guatemala as well as local transportation. Program fees include local transportation for programmed excursions and activities.


  • A $50 application fee is required.
  • $5,000 for tuition (6 credits at Tulane University)
  • $1,300 for program fee
    The program fee covers local accommodations (including at least one meal/day with the home-stay family) and local travel. In addition to the travel costs mentioned above in “Travel and Arrangements,” certain other costs are not included in the program tuition or program fee, such as laundry, snacks, souvenirs, passport/visa fees, vaccinations, et cetera.
  • This course meets all requirements for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships; students are encouraged to apply to their home institution for summer FLAS Fellowship support. Tuition for students on FLAS Fellowships is $5,000. Eligible graduate students at other universities may apply to the University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, the University of Texas at Austin, Tulane University, and/or the University of New Mexico for Summer FLAS Fellowship support, but priority for FLAS awards will be given to students enrolled at these awarding institutions. Click here for more information on FLAS at the University of Chicago.


Please Contact Natalie Arsenault
ncarsenault@uchicago.edu | 773.702.974