Language Programs Management

Frequently Asked Questions about Language Programs Management

What is Language Programs Management?

What and Who are stakeholders in a development project ?

Here is a common definition 1of the term "stakeholder":

Stakeholders are individuals or organizations who

  • have interest in,
  • or are affected by

the project results or project activities.

Note that for some agencies, the term ‘stakeholder’ is limited to ‘those who are participating in the project’.

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 project
  • exercise some degree of opposition to a project
  • demonstrate an indifferent attitude towards the project in one or more of the following aspects:
    • Atmosphere, more frequently described as “context” or “situation”
    • Expertise
    • Financing’ could include the provision of resources other than funds
    • Power, also used to describe the relationships between people and/or organizations

Be Aware:

  • Not all stakeholders are partners. All partners are stakeholders.
  • There may be some stakeholders who do not participate in decision-making in the project even though they are affected by the project.

What is stakeholder analysis?

This is a process2 of identifying influence, position, importance and behavior of stakeholders, in order for the project manager to determine necessary action for the success of the intended program /project. It includes documenting their interests, potential for involvement and support, and their likely impact on project success.3

The overall purpose of stakeholder analysis is to help the project manager and staff to understand the position and role of various stakeholders vis-à-vis the managing of a project, and how they can or will affect the success of the project. NB “Managing” in this context refers to the various points in the Project Cycle (Planning, Implementation, Review, Revision). Lakey4 suggests a “spectrum” (continuum) to describe the range of relationships which people and organizations may have or use in support of, or in opposition to, a project or program. People and organizations can change their attitude towards a project. For example, an agency which, initially, does not show interest in a project may at a later date decide to become involved. They have moved from “neutral” status to “allies” status in the diagram below.

Lakey’s diagram illustrates seven different relationships between a project and other organizations who are also found in the same context or region. Some may be supportive (green blocks); others may be opposed (orange blocks), and still others are essentially neutral (blue blocks, white block) though this may have some nuances as well. 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 and its objectives. In some situations, some agencies may choose to always be opposed to a given project. (ex: Some local groups may oppose, whether passively or actively, a translation into the local language).

What is language development?5

Language development is the series of on-going planned actions that a language community takes to ensure that their language continues to serve their 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

  • developing the corpus of a language (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 (acquisition planning is integrated into a larger language planning process in which the statuses of languages are evaluated, corpuses are revised and the changes are finally introduced to society on a national, state or local level through education systems, ranging from primary schools to universities.)

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

See wikipedia definition 6, 7

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 are the principles of project design?


What is sustainable development?

Sustainable language development is development that led and carried out by language community members after the external stakeholders are no longer present in the project. In some instances, the external stakeholders may continue to serve the project though at the request of and under local leadership. Members of the language community have their own motivation to develop further use of their language in other domains. They may request some external help is capacity building.

What is the LPM body of knowledge?

The Language Programs Management body of knowledge represents the wisdom learned from experience in managing language development programs. As language programs managers work in the role and reflect on what they are learning, they gain deeper insights into the management practices may be applied more effectively (than others) when managing a language program. 

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.

What are LPM Best Practices?


End Notes:


2. Stakeholder analysis models

3. Identify project stakeholders

4. George Lakey, Training for Change,

5. What is Language Development

6. Capacity building, also referred to as capacity development, is a conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing their developmental goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results.

7. Change management models