Language Programs Management


What is Language Programs Management?

What and Who are stakeholders in a development program ?

Stakeholders are individuals or organizations who have interest in, or are affected by the program results or activities.

Note that for some agencies, the term ‘stakeholder’ is limited to ‘those who are participating in the program’.They also call them “partners”.

The term “partners” identifies key/ core stakeholders who are committed to a significant part of the project.

Stakeholders may

  • exercise some degree of support for the program
  • exercise some degree of opposition to a program
  • demonstrate an indifferent attitude towards the program

They do this in one or more of the following:

  • interpretation of the “context” or “situation” in which the program is carried out
  • provision of expertise that is required by or is applicable to the program
  • provision of finances as well as other resources
  • usage of power and influence to affect the relationships between people and/or between organizations
  • provision of personnel to the program

In the MfLDR approach, the term “partners” refers to the key stakeholders who are committed to a significant part of the program.

Be Aware:

  • Not all stakeholders are partners. All partners are stakeholders.
  • There may be some supportive stakeholders who choose to not participate in decision-making in the program even though they are affected by it.

What is stakeholder analysis?

For each stakeholder, the analysis explores its potential or actual influence, position, importance and behavior vis-a-vis a program or project. It includes documenting stakeholders’ interests, potential for involvement and support, and their likely impact on project success. It includes at least some analysis of which stakeholders are more likely than others to use their relative influence over other stakeholders. The program manager uses this information to determine necessary actions for the success of the intended program /project.

The experienced program and project managers know – and learn to work with – unequal relationships between the various stakeholders. Some have more influence than others; some are more likely than others to use their influence for their own purposes; some have higher status than others and thus could be more influential, etc.

The project manager seeks to engage with those who are supportive of the project; he seeks to inform those who are neutral and who could contribute in some positive way to the objectives of the project; he remains aware of those who are opposed, and when appropriate may seek to help them better understand the project, its objectives, and the potential benefit to them. In some situations, some agencies may choose to always be opposed to a given project. For example some local groups may oppose, whether passively or actively, a translation of Scripture into the local language. Some groups are known to oppose development and use of the local language in schools preferring instead to focus on developing curricula that use the national language.

What is language development?5

Language development is the series of on-going planned actions that a language community takes to ensure that its language continues to serve its changing social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual needs and goals.

  • …series of on-going, planned actions… emphasizes that “language development” requires intentional actions to achieve specific objectives and that such actions continue for as long as speakers of the language wish to use their language for communication and as a mark of their cultural heritage;
  • …that language communities take…emphasizes that the mother tongue speakers must be at the center of any effort to “develop” and sustain their language;
  • … continues to have the capacity… emphasizes that traditionally, most languages had the capacity to serve the communicative needs of their speakers. However, the impact of modernization and globalization requires their adaptation and development so that they remain relevant and useful in the speakers’ changing situations;
  • … social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual… emphasizes that as people are multi-dimensional, their needs and goals cannot be separated into and treated as discrete components

In this definition, “language development” is about more than JUST languages.  It’s about serving the people who speak the languages.

What is a language development project?

A language development project is a sub-component of a larger program. A language development project focuses on:

  • corpus planning (graphization, standardization, modernization)’. This includes the development, selection and modification of scripts and orthographic conventions for a language and is based on linguistic analyses of the speech variety in question.
  • status planning: allocation or reallocation of a language or variety to functional domains within a society, thus affecting the status, or standing, of a language. In multilingual societies, this process includes the identification of which languages are used by whom for what purposes.
  • acquisition planning focuses on the users of the language and their capacity to use it for the desired domains.

For example, if the status planning decision is made to use a particular language for arithmetic in schools, and the corpus planning decisions are made to develop a set of terms for all of the needed mathematical operations, an acquisition plan must also be developed to train teachers to teach those terms, to develop materials that incorporate them, to distribute that teacher training and the instructional materials, and to deploy those trained teachers to the places where they can make use of their training.

What is capacity building, why is it important for a community?

Aspects of a community’s / organization’s capacity include: human resources, systems and infrastructures, organizational structure, organizational skills, strategies, aspirations. Specifically in Language Programs Management, this capacity includes skills necessary for participating in language development activities, and encompasses both program- and project-management skills.

When capacity building is part of a language development program, then it includes activities specifically designed to focus on mentoring, coaching, training, of local community members in the use of these aspects. Members of the language community take on responsibilities in the development project and pass them on to succeeding generations.

In order for a language community to support sustainable development and use of their language, they must have enduring access to a variety of resources and be able to use those resources to achieve their desired objectives.

What is sustainable development?

Sustainable language development is led and carried out by language community members through the leadership of one or more local institutions. Members of the language community have their own motivation to maintain the use of their language. They may request some external help in a variety of roles including strengthening their capacity.

What are best practices?

Practices are things we do. Best Practices1 are things we do that have been found to work best, or at least better than other possible things we could do. As such, the Best Practices are simply statements to do something, often in a particular way. They are not statements about what should be done. Best Practices takes as a starting point that the activity (what we are doing) is valued and important. It also takes as a starting point the fact that doing this activity, and doing it well, greatly improves the quality of various products and other practices in the same field.