About SIL Training

SIL offers training in a variety of disciplines relevant to sustainable language development.

SIL offers training in fields of study that support language development such as linguistics, literacy and multilingual education, anthropology, translation, and learner-directed language and culture learning.

SIL training is available for members of minority language communities, for policymakers and educators concerned with minority language issues, and for those who wish to assist communities in their language development efforts. Training is available in numerous formats, from short courses and workshops to full degree programs offered in cooperation with universities and educational institutions worldwide.


SIL’s first training event was held at Happy Valley Farm near Sulphur Springs, Arkansas USA in 1934. The 3-month course combined rustic living and academic training to prepare prospective linguists to learn and analyze unwritten languages in rural Latin America.

In 1941, one of the attendees was a professor of French at the University of Oklahoma who was studying a Native American language. She was so impressed with the usefulness of SIL’s techniques that she invited Kenneth Pike to demonstrate them at the University. As a result, SIL was invited to hold its sessions at the University of Oklahoma, an arrangement that continued until 1987. Other North American universities that have hosted SIL’s courses include the University of North Dakota (1951–), the University of Washington (1958–1985), the University of Texas at Arlington (1973–1999), Trinity Western University (1985–), and the University of Oregon (1986–2002).

SIL began offering courses outside North America with the establishment of educational programs in the United Kingdom (1953), Australia (1955) and Germany (1961). Educational partnerships were also formed with universities in Africa (1961), Latin America (1963) and Asia (1966). Through the years SIL has trained over 20,000 students in various aspects of linguistics, literacy and other cross-cultural work.

In addition to university-level instruction, SIL continues to conduct numerous non-formal workshops on the local level to equip members of ethnolinguistic communities to carry on their own language development work.