Teaching and Preserving a Mother Tongue

by Wendy Phung

Literacy education in the mother tongue is very important as it equips the people to read the Scriptures in their own language and allows the Word of God to speak to them in their heart language. Children were gradually losing their mother tongue and they were replacing it with words borrowed from another language. This erosion of their own language may lead to its extinction. Therefore the need to encourage the learning of their mother tongue.

In 2018, a family of five in one of the villages accepted Christ after listening to the Bible in their mother tongue. We then started three more mother tongue Bible study classes in other villages.

Besides the literacy education program, we also started the Oral Bible Storying programs. We worked to bring the Bible stories to other villages. At the moment, we have completed five oral narrative stories in four ethnic group languages. The use of the oral Bible has become one of the ways to bring the gospel to the unreached people groups.

As part of the process to equip the mother tongue translators, a training workshop was organized in January 2018. From the workshop, 2 participants expressed interest to join our literacy education project and were accepted into the literacy education team. This is God’s answer to our prayers. They received training in office administration and IT and the preparation of literacy education materials. They also received training to train teachers in literacy education. Both of them are now able to work with minimal supervision.

It is our goal to see the children learn not only their mother tongue but also master the national language and English. Improving the level of education is one of the long-term strategies for alleviating poverty.

Feedback from “Train the trainer”
in mother tongue education workshop.

Yuzzie – SIB church

The S language is under threat of being lost forever. We cannot afford to neglect our mother tongue. We need to preserve it for future generations. Our language is not difficult. It can be learnt easily with the Government spelling system.

Ps Rosmah – Lutheran church

It is indeed a blessing to be taught how to spell and write in the S language. Through the Government spelling system classes, many new words are learnt and this enriches our mind. We recall many long forgotten words. There was also good interaction with churches of other denominations. Although we face different challenges we are able to work towards a common goal.

Prayer Items

  1. Pray for the spiritual growth of the young people in the community, that they will have a teachable heart and a giving spirit.

  2. Pray for our literacy team members for spiritual growth and a serving heart.

  3. Pray that the mother tongue translators will continue to serve in this community.

  4. Pray for God’s spiritual protection for our team members who are involved in the oral Bible ministry to other unreached people groups.

Wendy Phung works with an indigenous people group doing literacy and language development. Her work involves the development of an orthography i.e. a set of conventions for writing a language, how words should be spelt and written.