- those who are fully fluent in the endangered language
- those who understand the language, but have difficulty expressing themselves
- those who can't say anything
I've heard linguists use several terms for those who understand a language but don't speak it, including "passive bilingual" and "semi-speaker." In the community I'm visiting now, people say they "hear" (i.e., understand) the language, but don't speak it.
For several weeks now we've had a support group for these language "hearers." We meet once a week to have lunch together, and we usually plan a fun activity involving language:
- Day 1. Each person gets a slip of paper with the name of a community member or celebrity on it. Then everyone asks questions to try to guess who that person is.
- Day 2. The group divides into pairs. Each pair gets a slip of paper describing a situation. Each pair then has to act out that situation in the form of a skit. Situations: a) one person is a hairstylist, the other is the customer; b) one person is sick in the hospital, the other is visiting; c) one person is calling the other person on the phone wondering if they're going to the store and whether they can get something for them.
- Day 3. We decide to start a phrase book to help others in the community. We divide into two groups, and each group chooses a specific topic (Greetings, Getting to Know Someone, Eating Together, Cooking Together, Driving, Shopping, On the Phone, When Someone is Sick, At Church, etc.). Each group then writes down 10-20 sentences on that topic, practices them, and then reads them to the other group.
- Day 4. The group plays $10,000 Pyramid. We each write the names of five objects or people on slips of paper and put them in a hat. We divide into two groups. One person from the first group draws a piece of paper and has to get the others on the same team to guess that word. The team that gets through the most slips of paper in a given time period (say, three minutes) wins.