Innovative solutions that inspire language development

“Any consideration to holistic planning must now include a technical training component. Technical training will continue to be a major need.“ –Andy Minch, SIL Pacific Area Language Program Services Director

The INSPIRE project (Initiative for Netbooks on Solar Power in Remote Environments) provides a complete hardware and software solution that allows language workers in remote environments to participate in the translation and language development effort. A key component of this process is a strong emphasis on training. This training was developed by finding easy-to-learn hardware and software technology and pairing it with translation and language development tasks. Trainers have had great success taking first-time computer users and quickly training them to use the INSPIRE systems.

Classes at the Ukarumpa Training Centre, using a fleet of 15 identical “INSPIRE netbook” systems, helped standardise the project. Instructors were pleased to have matching systems with the exact same software environments. Several courses at the Ukarumpa Training Centre have already used the standardised INSPIRE solution as part of their training. The “Translators Translation Course” (TTC-1) and the “Literacy, Leadership, Education and Development” (LLEAD) workshop have both incorporated this training for basic computer use into their coursework.

Project coordinators believe that they are on the threshold of a new era where appropriate and robust technology may empower Papua New Guineans’ involvement

in the work of vernacular language development and translation. New innovations such as the INSPIRE project enable and encourage greater participation in remote areas where involvement in the past has been limited. These systems have been designed to be affordable for local communities to purchase, allowing them to work independently of outside funding. By providing the necessary training required to utilize the tools, the project hopes to encourage local speakers of a given “Tokples” to work in their own language and in culturally acceptable ways. They hope to equip workers to document their mother tongue for themselves and consider being a part of the translation effort in their own home village context.

“I had this dream in the village that someday I would be working on a computer, but I dismissed that idea as impossible . . . Then I came to this LLEAD course . . . At first I was totally terrified of the computer, and my hands were shaking; now, I know how to make a book. I think I am the first in my language area that actually knows how to use a computer.”

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