“Is language developed to the point that communities around the world can interact as we do? What happens when minority languages don’t speak the language of education?” asks Bill Hampton, Director of International Relations at SIL International. As an international NGO looking through the lens of language, SIL works in over 60 countries to document languages, helping people to create their own dictionaries in places where language may have never been written. Mr. Hampton explained that language is a way people come together, but can also be a barrier. He provided examples of his extensive work in Southeast Asia, where young children are denied proper access to education because they do not speak the majority language. Working with children such as these, SIL promotes literacy in the mother tongue, which is a skill essential to being able to learn additional languages.
“Your language is the greatest representation of your culture and identity,” says Mr. Hampton. “In development, we have to understand this.”.