SIL International Home

SIL International Media Release

Bantu Literacy Tool software introduced

Bantu Literacy Tool software developer, Kent Schroeder, demonstrates the prototype computer program for the creation of primers for Bantu languages. (October 2008) The Bantu Literacy Tool (BLT) is a new computer program that simplifies the development of primers. It does a lot of tedious work that mother-tongue authors and literacy specialists formerly had to do manually. BLT is designed to help literacy personnel determine the most effective order of introducing consonants to beginning readers. The author retains creativity in writing stories to accompany each lesson, but is given a controlled vocabulary for producing the primers. BLT was developed by Kent Schroeder, SIL software developer.

A critical component of a language development project is literacy. As oral language communities design writing systems, they need to develop a series of lessons for teaching people how to read their newly-written language. As part of a literacy project, reading primers are produced for teachers to use when conducting literacy classes. BLT helps develop primers for Bantu languages.

BLT produces a tentative teaching order for graphemes—letters, digraphs or consonant clusters—via a productivity algorithm. It finds words that use only consonants already taught, checks stories for untaught words and performs other key tasks in producing reading primers.

There are more than 500 Bantu languages, located from Cameroon in western Africa to Kenya in the east, and south into South Africa. There are many similarities in the grammatical structure of languages in the Bantu family. Capitalizing on these similarities, BLT is one product of SIL’s Bantu Department. Another such product, PTEST, was developed to assist with the phonological analysis of a Bantu language. SIL has developed more than 60 pieces of software to support the work of its fieldworkers worldwide, most available free to the public for downloading.

Features of BLT version 1.0


Related links of interest