Lack of heart language learning hurting kids

By May 27, 2013

International (MNN) — If Bible translation is important for reaching the lost, wouldn't you think translating school materials for children into their heart language is also important?

Barbara Trudell is SIL's Africa Area Advocacy and Alliance Team leader. SIL is Wycliffe Bible Translator's primary strategic partner for Bible translation. Trudell says it's easy to learn when we're reading and learning in our heart language. "For millions of children and adults around the world, reading in a language they speak is not an option because it's all written in a language that is not their language."

This is particularly a problem in tribal areas of Africa and South America. For example, in Congo, imagine using French for the language of education when your heart language is Swahili. Trudell says, "You see children sitting there for years floundering their way through education in a language they don't speak and they don't understand. As soon as you start using their own language to teach them content and to teach them to read, they're quick. They're smart kids."

Even parents are making it difficult for some students by saying, "My child has to be fluent in the international language so that he can get a job. And, I think in a lot of ways, that is a myth because we know that the best learning kids do is [in] a language they speak."

Wycliffe places a high priority on using a person's heart language to give them an education, as well as to provide spiritual guidance. Trudell says, "Scriptures need to be available in the language we sin in, and that's true for everyone in the whole world."

According to Trudell, this has implications for pastors who receive seminary training in a language other than their heart language. She says, "When they go back to their community, how are they going to help those people grow and be blessed by their relationship with Jesus Christ? You can't just import terms from another language."

If you'd like to help Wycliffe Bible Translators or SIL in their translation efforts, click here.

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