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Literacy for the World


Working alongside language communities to harness the power of their language. We are involved in countless multilingual education programs in local schools and non-formal adult literacy programs designed to equip people to thrive with their language.

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Success Story

As the most linguistically diverse country in the world, Papua New Guinea (PNG ) is home to communities using more than 800 unique languages in their daily lives. Although the national language of instruction in PNG schools is English, children often take their first steps inside the classroom only understanding the language of their local community. 

Without a way to bridge this gap between the local language and the language of education, learning turns into a slow, stilted process that discourages these eager young minds. However, with the constantly expanding opportunity of digital technology and the widespread presence of digital handheld devices,  SIL has developed a powerful tool, called Talking Books, to support increased literacy rates.

Talking Books digital technology runs on SIL’s award-winning software, Bloom, which allows anyoneto quickly and easily create or translate books into their own language. Users can then record an audio reading of the text before publishing, and the Bloom Reader app highlights the book text as readers listen and read along. 

“The fact that teachers and parents can have access to more than 80 book titles for free and that these books are accessible in their language, as well as English, is a big thing.— Koen den Hartogh, SIL language technology consultant

In PNG’s East Sepik province, one primary school teacher witnessed a turn around in his classroom once Talking Books were introduced to enhance students’ formal education using the local language. Despite a previous lack of reading ability among his young students, this teacher remarked that today they “read and read and read.”