Language Learning in SIL

A listing of courses on self-directed language learning taught at SIL-affiliated schools.

Since field work in SIL focuses on minority languages for which there are little or no written materials, our members have the challenge of learning such languages without the help of grammar books, dictionaries, textbooks or teachers. They often also have to learn a language of wider communication and an official language, which may be a major world language, such as French.

A basic goal of the organization is therefore to provide training and materials that will help our members to do self-directed language learning in any situation in which they may find themselves, including those in which their only resource may be a community of speakers. For this reason, the materials are mainly aimed at the learners themselves, rather than at language teachers or course writers. Advice is given on how to plan and manage the learning process when working with native speakers of the language who usually are not trained teachers, and on how to choose language acquisition activities that will fit the learner's preferred learning style and situation.

Although these materials have been developed to help people learning minority languages in the situation described above, the principles of self-directed learning and the resources provided should also be helpful to people learning languages in a language school setting or when doing independent study with commercially available materials.

A second goal of the organization is to give help to those whose job is to supervise or facilitate the learning of self-directed learners. Materials aimed specifically at this audience are still being developed, but many of the resources aimed at the individual learner can also be used by supervisors or facilitators.