Communities developing resources and competencies for using their languages
Foundational understanding for language development work of all kinds
Publications, fonts and computer tools for language development, translation and research
SIL offers training in disciplines relevant to sustainable language development.
7,105 languages are spoken or signed. CLICK for map of world languages & regional websites.
SIL's dedication to language development past and present
Eight goals were adopted by 189 United Nations member states to be achieved by 2015. SIL views local language development as essential to achieve these goals.
Income improvement and hunger relief within ethnolinguistic communities is achieved when life-changing information is communicated in a language that people understand well. Higher literacy rates often result in higher per capita incomes.
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Primary education programs that begin in the mother tongue help students gain literacy and numeracy skills more quickly. When taught in their local language, students readily transfer literacy skills to official languages of education, acquiring essential tools for life-long learning. The results are the growth of self esteem and a community that is better equipped to become literate in languages of wider communication.
Nearly two-thirds of the world's 875 million illiterate people are women. In ethnolinguistic communities, boys are often encouraged to interact with others in languages of wider communication. Girls, however, are typically expected to stay close to home where the local language is often the only language used. Research shows that girls and women who are educated in languages familiar to them stay in school longer and achieve better results than those who do not get mother-tongue instruction.
The mortality rate for children under five years of age is reduced when vital health information about disease prevention and treatment is available in local languages. Conversely, poorly understood health information can lead to dangerous and even fatal misinformation. Ethnolinguistic communities are vulnerable to diarrhea, malaria and other common illnesses when they lack the resources and capability to obtain essential health knowledge.
A mother is better able to care for herself and her family when she is literate in her mother tongue and has access to health information in a language she understands well. Language development facilitates the introduction of new concepts and the accurate translation of new terminology.
People in ethnolinguistic communities are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases due in part to the lack of essential information in the mother tongue. Reading materials in local languages that discuss hygiene, nutrition,and the prevention and treatment of diseases have proven to be effective in improving general health and life expectancy. The availability of culturally-relevant information dispels misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Environmental preservation principles are communicated between languages through language development programs and literature production. Deforestation is a critical problem worldwide. As local populations learn appropriate technology while drawing on traditional knowledge of flora and fauna, they meet economic needs while protecting the environment.
Global partnerships among ethnolinguistic communities and national and international societies require communication and mutual understanding. Mother-tongue revitalization ensures that a language continues to serve the changing goals of its speakers and provides a bridge for the community to meet its broader multilingual goals by acquiring a language of wider communication. Language development facilitates the broader exchange of traditional knowledge as well as making the benefits of global information and communications technologies available.