Minority Group Language Development
Language development is the process by which a community expands their capacity to use their own language to meet their ever-evolving needs and desires.
The world is rapidly changing. The forces of globalization and technological development have given birth to a world in which the information pool overflows continually. Access to and use of this information is key to a society’s ability to flourish politically, economically, and even culturally.
But for those who speak the world’s lesser-known languages, this access is often limited. Speaking languages that sometimes remain unwritten, these groups find themselves unable to enter the global exchange of information. Those who do have a written language often lack the written materials, literacy skills, and other resources needed to use their language in a way that might empower them within the global or even their local community. Such peoples are often taken advantage of.
For this reason, many speakers of minority languages find themselves at a crossroad. Either they reject their language and culture to adopt a language that affords them more socioeconomic opportunity, or they abandon their political, economic, and social dreams, marking them as unattainable.
At ILAD, we believe that these two options are neither desirable nor necessary. Rather, through language development, we partner with local communities to equip them with the skills and tools necessary to use their own languages and cultures to gain and exchange information and to effect the changes that will accomplish their socioeconomic goals. We provide input, advice, and technical expertise to community leaders who desire to see their language increase in its capacity to serve the needs of its speakers. Whether through orthography development, the creation of written materials, or improvements in reading, writing, and technological literacy, ILAD linguists base their decisions not only upon sound technical knowledge, but also the desires and goals of the people they serve.
In conjunction with community development initiatives, ILAD works alongside minority language communities to establish sustainable mother-tongue literacy programs.
ILAD engages in language development programs that promote the reading and writing of local languages through literacy classes and literacy teacher trainings with the purposes of:
- Training individuals, particularly women, to read and write
- Educating mothers in order to alleviate poverty
- Encouraging adults to educate both their peers and the next generation
ILAD works with local communities to increase the income-generating capacity of local farmers through agricultural training. By providing hands-on education and training, farmers are able to fully understand and implement different techniques for increasing crop production.
Sustainable Social Business
ILAD recognizes that in many communities, the biggest obstacle for small, rural farmers is finding markets for their produce. Small farmers cannot invest in crops or new techniques for increasing their crop production, if there is not a fair price market to which they can sell their products. In order to stimulate agricultural production by local farmers, ILAD is involved in creating local and regional markets.
In order for the local farmers to diversify their crops and make use of the new agricultural methods, ILAD has begun to provide financial services such as savings and micro- loans through a village banking system. The bank also offers financial education and helps each client with business plans and assessment of their use of the loan.
ILAD facilitates education in rural villages via sponsorship programs managed by local community committees. Families receiving sponsorships for their children’s educational supplies are asked to make their own contributions to the program; these funds are saved and utilized in subsequent years with the expectation that the program will be completely self-sustaining within ten years.
Through this model, children are able to receive an education when they may not have otherwise. The project also creates a system in which the community contributes to and takes ownership of the future of their children’s education.
In many of the communities where ILAD works, clean water is a critical issue. ILAD is helping to bring clean water to whole villages through the overseeing of the drilling of water wells. Some wells in rural areas provide clean water for thousands of people from miles away.
Working in partnership with local medical personnel, ILAD provides mobile medical clinics several times a year in rural villages. These villages have very limited medical services and many residents lack the financial means to travel to the urban areas where medical facilities might be located so these clinics provide a vital service in these communities.
Working with local medical students has also opened up the eyes of the more affluent nationals to the medical needs within their own nation’s borders. The interaction of these socially minded, national medical students with the rural village youth also inspires a new generation to envision the possibilities for their futures.