Multilingual Education Programs
Certain contexts may require developing multilingual education (MLE) programs which promote literacy in the first language and provide further access to a language of wider communication and the broader linguistic community.
Multilingualism, rather than monolingualism or even bilingualism, is the reality of most language contexts in our world today. For that reason language program planners and the communities they represent usually want to include educational opportunities that will expand into the national language and perhaps even include an international language.
Multilingual educational programs can provide the means to meet these community and national aspirations. Based on linguistic and pedagogical principles, SIL works with local and national educators to develop transition literacy materials. Transitional materials begin with what a person has already learned through literacy in the mother tongue to gain literacy in the national language. However, if the person has learned to read first in the national or some other language, instructional materials can be designed to begin with that language to transition back into the mother tongue. The person with multilingual literacy skills then has access to print in "both worlds."
Multilingual Education in SIL
Multilingual and bilingual education programs are most often a part of a formal educational system. For that reason, SIL has worked in cooperation with various ministries and departments of education in a variety of countries in program development.
SIL supports multilingual education (MLE) as it enables ethnolinguistic minority communities to participate in broader linguistic circles while still functioning fully in the vitality of their own language. SIL has produced a resource, Multilingual Education, which illustrates several important issues in MLE: advocacy, capacity building, writing systems, resource linking and lifelong learning.
Multilingual Education: Mother-tongue-first Education in a Multilingual World
Posters used in the above Multilingual Education publications
- Multilingual Education Bridge: visually demonstrates methods of bridging between languages.
- MLE Components: shows the components of sustainable Multilingual Education Programs in chart form.
- Advocacy Kit for Promoting Multilingual Education: Including the Excluded
- Promoting Literacy in Multilingual Settings
- American Anthropological Association special session on Multilingual Education sponsored by SIL members, November, 2006
- Manual for Developing Literacy and Adult Education Programmes in Minority Language Communities by Susan Malone (UNESCO Publication)
- Beyond the Bilingual Classroom: Literacy Acquisition among Peruvian Amazon Communities by Barbara Trudell
- Bilingual Education: An Experience in Peruvian Amazonia by Mildred L. Larson, Patricia M. Davis
- SIL publications on Bilingual Education listed by country
- Videos on Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MLE)
- First International Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization, and Multilingual Education in Ethnolinguistic Communities (6–8 November, 2003). Download papers from
- The 2nd International Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization, and Multilingual Education in Ethnolinguistic Communities (1–3 July 2008).
- Improving Quality of Mother Tongue/Bilingual Literacy Programs (Intl. workshop, June 2007)
- Malaysian Bajau representatives observe Maori educational model
- Symposium on Multilingual Education in Bangladesh, August, 2005
- Archived material: Bilingual Education
- Resource Linking for MLE in South Asia