SIL International Media Release
Bantu Literacy Tool software introduced
(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
- Produces frequency counts for graphemes within the word list or text data
- Suggests a teaching order for the consonant graphemes, using an algorithm which calculates their productivity
- Progressively tracks graphemes that have been taught
- Provides a list of words containing any given grapheme from the word list or text data
- Provides a list of words that use only graphemes already taught for story use in a primer lesson
- Gives a list of usable phrases for a story, taken from the text data
- Checks a primer story for untaught graphemes
- Performs a variety of advanced searches, based upon parts of speech or other linguistic features
- Includes two sample templates and illustrations for producing Bantu primers
- Microsoft Windows XP
- Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package
- Doulos SIL or Andika font
- Microsoft Publisher or another publishing software package
- LinguaLinks, for access to Barnwell's A Workshop Guide to Primer Construction
- International Illustrations , with 11,000 line-drawing illustrations
Related links of interest
- BLT software download, installation, etc.
- Field testing of BLT Software (March 2008 media release)
- Bantu phonological analysis PTEST software, (December 2007 media release)
- Software presented at symposium on Bantu languages (August 2008 media release)
- Documentary linguistics seminar in Bantu languages (June 2008 media release)
- Bantu languages listed in the Ethnologue (15th edition)
- A Survey Report for the Bantu Languages, by Derek Nurse, 2001