SIL International Home

SIL International Media Release

SIL Peru celebrates 60 years of service

Lima, PERU (September 2006): On September 21 SIL will celebrate 60 years of working alongside Peruvians in their efforts of language development for the ethnic minority languages of Peru. The celebration will be held in Magdalena del Mar, Lima. Representatives from the Peruvian government, nongovernmental organizations and educational institutions are expected to attend the event. SIL Executive Director Dr. John Watters will address the gathering.

At the invitation of Peru’s government, SIL’s founder Cameron Townsend arrived in Peru in 1946 with 17 SIL linguists to facilitate language development for the languages of the ethnic communities. Currently about 80 SIL linguists and literacy personnel are actively working in 35 different language programs.

SIL linguists have assisted in documenting 68 Peruvian languages in partnership with the Ministry of Education, other government and nongovernmental agencies along with the ethnic minority language communities and national like-minded organizations. SIL has made significant contributions in literacy development and training for bilingual teachers in Peru. SIL Peru supports training programs in linguistics, literacy and translation principles for Spanish speakers as well as for mother tongue speakers.

SIL personnel work with local people to produce vernacular publications covering a wide range of topics including folktale anthologies, community health books, community development and literacy primers and literature. SIL also supports spiritual development through Bible translation efforts for speakers of ethnic minority languages.

SIL’s linguistic library in Peru provides over 3,000 volumes which are available to the Peruvian community. Although the library is not a public library, SIL encourages professors, students, and other researchers from colleges and universities to reference the collections.

SIL Peru has published almost 1500 documents: phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy and other translated materials in nearly 70 Peruvian languages.  These can be downloaded free of charge at

A map of language areas can be found at

Current SIL Peru Director, James Roberts, signs the agreement. In April of 2004 a ceremony was held at SIL Peru’s Yarinacocha linguist center to commemorate the donation of the property to the Universidad Nacional Intercultural de la Amazonia (The National Intercultural University of the Amazon). Current SIL Peru Director, James Roberts, signs the agreement.

SIL Peru contributions:

Awards presented to SIL from the Peruvian Government

  1. May 1953: Lima, Peru. The Peruvian Government awards to the founder of the Summer Institute of Linguistics the decoration of OFFICIAL of the Order of Merit for Distinguished Services.
  2. July 1963: Lima, Peru. The decoration of COMMANDOR of the Order of Merit for Distinguished Services is awarded to Doctor W. C. Townsend by the President of the Republic of Peru.
  3. August 1963: The MAGISTERIAL PALMS of Peru are awarded to Townsend in consideration of services given to Peruvian national education.
  4. July 1966: The Faculty of Education of the Great National University of San Marcos of Lima names Doctor Townsend Doctor Honoris Causa of the University, for his profound work leading the Linguistic Institute.

SIL and Bilingual Education in Peru

Related links of interest