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.
7,099 languages are spoken or signed. CLICK for map of world languages & regional websites.
SIL's dedication to language development past and present
Many children are not allowed to use their language in school. True or false?
True. Children from non-dominant language communities often begin formal education in classrooms where their language is not allowed. The medium of instruction is a language they do not speak and barely understand.
Everyone agrees that a learner's home language is best for learning new concepts. True or false?
Everyone agrees that a learners' home language is best for learning new concepts. True or false?
False. Some government and school officials, as well as parents, do not yet understand the documented benefits of mother tongue-first education. SIL helps to raise awareness about the importance of language and culture in effective education.
In what parts of the world does language play a significant role in education?
Everywhere. Although access to education in one’s own language is often taken for granted in western countries, even minority language communities in North America and Europe need local language literacy solutions. SIL staff provide assistance for local language literacy programs in communities around the world, including those who communicate in signed languages.
In mother tongue-first education programs, how do children learn to read and write in the school language?
Mother tongue-first students learn to read and write in their mother tongue. They also begin learning the official school language orally. With a good foundation in reading and writing their home language and a good basic oral vocabulary in the school language, students can then “bridge” to reading and writing in the school language.
How is bookmaking a hindrance for low-literacy language communities?
Learning to read takes books. Learning to read well takes lots of books at all different skill levels. But creating books is challenging for many communities. SIL’s open-source Bloom software offers a solution by allowing low-literacy language communities to create books in their languages with just a computer, basic computer skills and a printer.
What part do communities play in the success of local literacy and education programs?
Community participation is essential for planning and implementation of sustainable literacy programs. During planning, local community members identify needs and goals for the program. As the program is implemented and community members recognize the concrete benefits, they provide necessary support for teachers and administrators.
What important contribution can outside partners like SIL make to non-dominant language communities?
One of the most valuable contributions that SIL and other partners can make is to build capacity in local community members to plan, implement, manage and maintain programs that achieve community goals.
How many languages do not have an established writing system?
Less than half of the 7,097 living languages known today have an established writing system. The first step in education for these communities is to establish a writing system.
How do government policies affect education in non-dominant language communities?
Where government policies support the use of non-dominant languages in education, a community’s ability to use their language for learning is enhanced. Policies that discourage or disallow the use of local languages for education stifle learning for communities where the official language is not heard or used. SIL provides technical information for policy makers and other stakeholders in developing language and education policies.
How does SIL support global literacy?
SIL education specialists and consultants provide technical support to local communities, governments and others that are engaged in planning and implementing literacy and education programs in non-dominant language communities.
What is SIL's relationship with UNESCO?
As a nongovernmental organization, SIL has Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Consultative Status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). SIL is a founding member of Maaya, the World Network for Linguistic Diversity. SIL is the registration authority for ISO 639-3 codes for the representation of names of languages.
How are SIL staff contributing to global conversations about education?
In additional to field work around the world, SIL education specialists participate in a wide range of education-related forums and conferences, including the annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), the world’s largest conference focusing on educational development. Recently SIL education consultants addressed issues of multilingualism and introduced a new resource tackling “Good Answers to Tough Questions in MLE”.