World's Newest Alphabet Song

World's Newest Alphabet Song

With Canadian Thanksgiving Day just behind us and American Thanksgiving coming soon, for many this is a season for paying attention to all the things we normally take for granted—a time to remember to be grateful for our families, our lives, our work, and all the other blessings of being alive.

One very important thing that almost no one ever remembers to be grateful for is language…

Read More

Words Across Continents:

Words Across Continents:

Most Americans will never have to relocate because of terrorism, but for Barbara Trudell it was all just part of her life as a professional linguist. Raised in tranquil western New York State, Barbara attended Houghton College where she studied linguistics and met Joel, the man who would become her husband. The two were interested in literacy work and after graduating from Houghton, in 1980 they joined SIL. SIL sent them as a literacy team to Peru, where for three years they worked with Quechua language groups in the highlands around the beautiful mountain city of Huancayo.

The eighties brought heightened terrorist activity to Peru, most notably by the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path…

Read More

Inside the READ Act - part three

Inside the READ Act - part three

When is it appropriate to teach children in a language they do not speak or understand? That’s a question I found myself asking when I read the following sentence in the U.S. Government International Basic Education Strategy:

  • “U.S. Government programs will encourage schools, where appropriate, to teach in a language children speak and understand...” [p. 32, emphasis added]

I am glad that the strategy makes space for children being taught in a language children speak and understand. That’s what we’re about at SIL LEAD. But the phrase, “where appropriate” stumped me…

Read More

Inside the READ Act - part two

Inside the READ Act - part two

In my previous post, I talked about the READ Act and the Administration’s strategy for implementing it. In this post, I want to look at the strategy from the vantage point of minority language communities.

The strategy highlights the learning crisis:

“387 million children of primary school age (56 percent) are not reaching the minimum proficiency level in reading and math.”

Read More

Inside the READ Act - part one

Inside the READ Act - part one

A year ago today, the United States Congress passed the READ Act—Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development. This is not just another bit of legislation. For the first time, the US government hopes to weave together all the disparate efforts of 10 agencies* into a unified effort to provide quality basic education around the world.

From that moment on, the clock has been ticking…

Read More

"A Very Useful Tool"

"A Very Useful Tool"

Since SIL LEAD first began teaching Bloom training workshops, we have run over a dozen of them in almost as many countries, teaching hundreds of educators, writers, and artists to use Bloom software to easily create books in local languages. These teachers have gone on to teach others, and Bloom has rippled out into the world exponentially.

Our most recent Bloom workshop recently brought us back to the beautiful mountain cities of Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala…

Read More

How to Choose a Language...

How to Choose a Language...

On the first day of his classes with university students in Kenya, Dr. Maik Gibson would always ask, “How many languages have you spoken in the last week?” The answer was usually at least three or four—rarely as few as two.

The fluidity with which Maik’s African students shifted from one language to another astonished him and prompted him to shift his focus from linguistics to sociolinguistics. He began to explore how languages are used in society, and loved unpacking with his students the sometimes unexamined reasons behind why they used the languages they did, when they did…

Read More