Africa (MNN) ― There is an education trend in the developing world that eventually will have an impact on Bible translation.
Evidence shows that the use of mother tongue in early education develops better and faster learners
For example, when a child thinks, he naturally uses the language he grew up with. The thinking process in that language is fast and clear. However, if the child has to first translate the question into his mother tongue before coming up with an answer, and then re-translate into the secondary language, the fluency delay costs the child. If the teacher has moved on to the next point, the lesson may be altogether lost on the child.
Additionally, if a child cannot fully express himself, he is inhibited to ask questions and may just keep quiet or just agree with what the teacher says, further delaying learning.
Barbara Trudell agrees. She works with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the SIL Institute in Sub-Saharan Africa. "When the school systems are using the language that the people speak as the language of instruction, that produces readers. As it is, in many cases many schools are producing dropouts or kids who aren't learning very much at all, and it has a lot to do with the language of instruction."
Their job has been getting the governments and the schools to see that such an approach is better for students. "They basically come out stronger because they're literate in two languages instead of, well really, neither one." Their team works as consultants to help government schools implement the linguistic policy changes in the schools.
Learners who begin in their mother language have better cognitive development and are likely able to handle demanding subject matter. Trudell says their whole approach to education is with an eye cast toward the Gospel.
Once the translations are completed and available, churches can move forward in discipleship, while keeping the community's identity intact, much more quickly. "If the education system can produce readers of the Scripture," says Trudell, "that's a real boost for us in Bible translation because we have an automatic, ready-made audience."