Roles in LPM

FAQ: Language Program Management

The need for Language Program Managers is increasing and many fields are asking for help in this area. We are looking for people with good people skills and the following mindsets that are crucial to success in this role:

  • Facilitation: it is more effective to work with the community than for the community
  • Language development: this is valuable in strengthening a community’s identity and ability to transmit life-crucial information
  • Results orientation: core stakeholders plan and manage programs and projects to bring about change
  • Context awareness: understanding the wider context to grasp the ramifications that both internal and external factors have on programs/projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Would this be mainly an office, desk-job?

Not entirely. This Manager builds relationships and interacts face to face with stakeholders for planning and management. These stakeholders include Church and community leaders and may include other organizations with the same concerns for a language community with whom planning and management takes place. It does involve desk work such as developing and reporting on project funding proposals, other reporting and working with office staff, as well as documenting progress in projects, etc.

What would this work look-like from day to day?

We are looking for people willing to take up the following responsibilities for managing language programs:

  • Interacting regularly with stakeholders (see above) as a primary representative of the entity's programs and projects in a specified region of the country (countries); these include, meeting annually with the stakeholders in the language project, reviewing progress in the past year, and reviewing plans for the upcoming year.
  • Participating with partners and program personnel in program planning and managing the entity's contribution to the language development programs under his/her supervision.
  • Providing leadership/guidance/support for the Project Managers that report to him or her;
  • Ensuring that the organization's policies are followed;
  • Providing information crucial to decision-making processes to the appropriate personnel

Would it involve a lot of travel?

Yes, it involves traveling to language locations, to offices of stakeholders and to meetings held in various places related to the above responsibilities. Under usual circumstances, international travel is not likely required.

If so, would it be something that a person with a family could do?

Yes, in some locations and situations, assuming the presence of other support to the family during times of a parent’s absence, the relative degree of difficulty in a specific living situation, etc. It would also depend on the number and ages of the family members. The schooling of the children would need to be considered.

Would someone with 20 or more years experience in management make a good Manager of Programs and Partnerships?

This experience would be a plus for this position. This would be supplemented with an individualized retooling process designed for additional competencies that may be needed for the role. They should also be able to work well with people, cope with meeting new challenges (especially cross-culturally), willing to be helpful in spiritual and personnel issues that team members may face. They need flexibility and a willingness to work as a partner with local people rather than as their ‘supervisor or boss’.

Would the person necessarily need to learn another language? 

Yes, at least learning the Language of Wider Communication (LWC) such as the national or regional language of the area. A Manager of Programs and Partnerships (MPP) is expected to achieve a comfortable speaking competency in this language.

How do I find out what training I need?

The amount and content of training will depend on the person’s current attitudes, skills, and knowledge. In general one should expect to spend at least 6 months in training of some kind, usually prior to leaving the home country. Some training may be in formal schools or programs; other types of training may be self-directed, working under a coach or mentor.

Would training be provided or would I need to be trained outside of SIL?

Some basic training will be provided. Depending on the outcome of the Assessment Process and identification of further competencies needed (the receiving entity can make these stipulations), some training or professional growth recommendations may be made that would involve training, for example at an SIL school.  There are some courses and resources available within the Organization for most competencies. The amount and content of training will depend on the person’s current attitudes, skills and knowledge. In general one should expect to spend at least six months in training of some kind, usually prior to leaving the home country. Some training may be in formal schools or programs; other types of training may be self-directed, working under a coach or mentor. Normally, we do not expect that a person would be required to enroll for the usual “SIL training program”.

Will this role build on my previous experience?

Yes, the Assessment process is intended to quantify / qualify / describe helpful previous experience.

How long would the training take? 

In general, six months prior to leaving the home country. This will depend on results of the Assessment of competencies that are presently held and any other needed competency identified.   Some training may need to be done pre-field and some training may be a part of internship training on the field. The person taking on this job is expected to establish a personal and professional growth plan, and to follow it.

Would it be essential to become a Wycliffe member to accept this position?

No, but there needs to be an affiliation with some Partner Organization (i.e., an SIL Field Organization/NGO, National Church, etc.) involved in Language Program Management.

What type of background, educational, etc. would be best for this work?

A university/tertiary degree (strongly recommended). Experience in planning and management or experience in a language program.

Does this job require handling large amounts of money?

The job will require some skills in financial management and reporting.

Can husbands and wives do this job together?

This is possible, though it depends primarily on the ability of the husband and wife to work together well, and to model this before the teams with whom they are working.

Do I have to / Will I be able to work with nationals?

Yes. Expect to have regular contact with national personnel in language projects, though you should not expect to be their superior / boss.

What’s the minimum time commitment for this role?

You should expect to commit to a normal, full field term (which is four years) at the minimum. You will spend part of that time in personal training, part of that time in language study, part of that time in getting oriented to your field entity, part of that time learning the particularities of the projects / programs under your responsibility. Along the way, many people will be investing in helping you, in the expectation that you will spend time in the role.

What happens if I can’t make the grade / it doesn’t work for me / it’s too hard / I can’t learn the language?

You will work with one or more coaches and trainers throughout your time of getting prepared for this role. If you have these concerns, (which are a normal part of taking on new roles), you can and should discuss them with those who are helping you. Wycliffe is interested in helping you succeed.