New education trend dovetails with Bible translation efforts

By April 26, 2010

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."

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