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(March 2009) Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and SIL are celebrating the opening of a new building to house their Linguistics Institute. This event marks the 20th anniversary of partnership between Payap University and SIL.Invited speakers
Payap University—a private liberal arts institution—and SIL combined efforts on the complete renovation and expansion of the old alumni building, which is located on the banks of the Mae Khao River. Two other SIL partner organizations provided approximately US $230,000 for renovation costs.
Payap University and SIL share a two-pronged vision of working together with ethnic communities. On the one hand, they aim to research and preserve ethnic languages and cultures. On the other, they aim to serve communities that desire to participate in language development programs. In 1988, Payap University and SIL agreed to establish both an academic Department of Linguistics and a practical training center for local communities.
The Linguistics Institute: Practical workshop training
The new Linguistics Institute building will enable Payap and SIL to provide even more ethnic groups with practical workshops in literacy, story writing, ethnomusicology and translation. Since 1991, over 250 participants from thirty-two ethnic groups have attended training workshops to learn various skills and produce materials in their mother tongues. The Linguistics Institute is composed of four units:
In 1988, Payap University and SIL agreed to establish the Department of Linguistics. Since then, fifty-one students from fifteen countries have completed an MA in Linguistics at Payap. Many of these students are minority language speakers who are now using their knowledge to help their own language communities. Besides teaching, all linguistics professors must do field research. They have written more than sixty research reports for Payap. Both professors and advanced students present their research at international conferences.
When the department first opened in 1989, courses were based largely on models from the United States or from SIL training centers in the USA, UK, Germany and Australia. As the department matured and as teaching faculty expanded their own research, courses were adjusted so they better meet the challenges that students will face in their future work.
The Royal Thai Government recognized Payap’s achievements in 1984 when it became the first fully accredited private university in Thailand. Since then the university has continued to thrive, expanding facilities to accommodate a steadily growing student body. Payap University invests in faculty development through its support of postgraduate education in various countries. It has added a wide range of international programs to attract students from across Southeast Asia and other areas of the world.
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