We look at maps and scholarly publications to see what languages urgently need to be documented.
We read everything we can on the people and language and communicate with other scholars who have worked there.
We make a list of questions we'd like to ask and materials we'd like to collect
We pack up our equipment and travel to the location
We go door to door and meet as many people as we can. We try to learn how many speakers there are, who they are, what they know, and what they are willing to share with us.
We conduct interviews with single and multiple speakers and try to get them to engage in conversation and talk about daily activities.
We look all around the village and take photos of cultural objects, such as boats, tools, hunting and gardening implements, fishing nets, etc. Then we show these photos to our speakers to help elicit interesting and culturally relevant stories.
We film these interviews, record the audio, and take notes.
After we make recordings, we often play back portions to the speakers, or to other speakers who may help us understand, transcribe and analyze the recordings.
We do scientific analysis on the recordings.
We give copies of all photos and recordings back to the local community, since it is their intellectual property.
We deposit copies in archives, and, if the community has given permission, we may post samples on a website.
We present and share our findings in scientific papers, public lectures, at scientific conferences, and with interested journalists.
We try to find out what goals and strategies the local community may have to sustain their language. We provide technology, training, and assistance to them to help meet those goals.
We try to cultivate a long-term collaboration with the community, visiting multiple times over a period of years.