What We Do

Language Assessment Specialists are skilled in field sociolinguistics research. In SIL, their primary task has been language mapping, that is identifying where languages are spoken and measuing the differences between the dialects or languages. (Read more on the Language Variation and Change page.) The results of this research provides much of the information for the Ethnologue.

Language Assessment Specialists also gather information for strategic language development planning. When planning language development it is important to understand patterns of language contact, language use, language attitudes, language vitality, and multilingualism. Through observation, questionnaires, interviews, and the use of participatory assessment tools they are able to create a profile of the sociolinguistic environment of speech communities.

SIL Language Assessment Specialists have also worked cooperatively with host governments and universities, and other partners, to train nationals in field linguistic research, gathering data for public and private educational institutions, and providing sociolinguistic information.

Many research reports are published on SIL Electronic Survey Reports, some have been published in journals or as books.