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Vernacular Media Strategies

Non-print media may be used in a language development program, especially among those who have not learned to read.

Even the most successful language development program will have its share of people who will not learn to read for reasons ranging from the fact that they are too old or physically handicapped to the fact that they are too busy making a living. In some cases sociolinguistic factors make learning to read in the language in which they are most proficient unattractive. For example, the mother tongue might be a language of low prestige.

Planning a vieo dubbing in an improvised studioOften such negative attitudes towards mother tongue literacy are held by the most important and respected people of the community, making the introduction or acceptance of literacy quite difficult. By means of vernacular media, non-readers can be included in the development of their language and the acquisition of new information.

Vernacular media can play a valuable role in serving people in geographically remote locations, raising the prestige of the local language, aiding in the transition to or from the Language of Wider Communication, and in motivating new readers. SIL vernacular media teams are able to guide local producers to ensure that media materials are culturally relevant, address local felt needs, and fit the local cultural format.

One of the most commonplace and effective media formats is the audio cassette, which allows for a variety of programming, is portable, inexpensive, and can transcend the literacy barrier. Cassette players are inexpensive and widely available. Other media formats that we are using are filmstrips, illustrations to accompany storytelling, booklets, drama, and locally-produced (or dubbed) videos.

These media formats, as used by SIL with speakers of the less-commonly-taught languages, are a means of developing tools which are tailor-made to address the key sociolinguistic factors of a community by matching technology with the goals and felt needs of the people.

SIL vernacular media specialists work with SIL language teams and local communities, offering assistance in determining the target audience, selection of appropriate media and the production and distribution of the finished product.

The overall goal is to enable the local people to establish an ongoing media production and distribution system. Vernacular media tools bridge the communications gap for new readers and those who will never learn to read.

For more information please contact Vernacular Media Services: