Launched by Transparent Language earlier this year, the 7000 Languages Project makes the company’s technologies and methods available without charge to advocates of, and experts in, languages of little or no commercial interest. The 7000 Languages Project was designed to promote familiarity with and proficiency in all of the world’s languages. Transparent Language’s president, Michael Quinlan, explains, “Much of earth’s linguistic and cultural heritage is bound up in thousands of languages that now face marginalization or extinction.
The 7000 Languages Project aims to make today’s best language learning technology and methods available at no cost to advocates of under-supported languages.” The initiative relies on interested organizations and groups to act as intermediaries — 7000 Partnerships — that select and support new projects. Transparent Language provides the technology at no cost and provides technical support to the 7000 Partnership, which in turn provides project and technical support to each of the individual language teams.
The first such 7000 Partnership was formed by the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), in coordination with the National African Languages Resource Center (NALRC) and the African Language Teachers Association (ALTA). In September and October, NCOLCTL organized workshops at Indiana University to officially accept and begin work on various languages. This partnership is now covering the following 13 languages: Dinka, Daju, Kijita, Efutu, Swahili, Uzbek, Sesotho, Dholuo, Kinyarwanda, Yoruba, Hausa, Siswati, and Akan.
“The 7000 Languages Project is especially a critical one for the NALRC whose main mission is to develop materials for learning and teaching African languages,” comments Executive Director of NCOLCTL and Director of NALRC, Antonia Schleicher, who has been the main coordinator of the NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership. “NALRC is going to be playing a major role in this project not only because this project fulfills one of its core missions but also because the project will serve as a means to preserve many African languages that are currently becoming endangered.”
Alwiya Saleh Omar, President of NCOLCTL and major player in the NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership, shares Quinlan and Schleicher’s enthusiasm: “The 7000 Languages Project is a great way to reinforce collaboration in curriculum and technology. NCOLCTL will work closely with LCTL instructors and organizations to make this project a success” she says. ALTA President, Kiarie Wa’Njogu, has also played a significant role in the project’s development. He explains, “In Africa, there are over 2,500 languages. The challenge has been to make many of these languages accessible. The 7000 Languages Project in collaboration with NCOLCTL and ALTA provides an avenue through which this dream can be realized. A long journey begins with one step.”
Learn more about the 7000 Languages Project at http://www.transparent.com/about/7000-languagesproject.html.