Research and Collaboration for Impact in Multilingual Communities
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Research and Collaboration for Impact in Multilingual Communities

Selected Papers from the Seventh International Language Assessment Conference, held in Penang, Malaysia, from May 9-16, 2018

About the Book

This volume discusses the cooperation, research and information needed in order to strategically plan significant language development in settings where multilingualism, urbanization, migration, language shift, diaspora populations, and refugee situations are prevalent and relevant factors. The important themes are useful collaboration in research, understanding the linguistic ecology, community engagement, and assessing impact. This volume stems from the experience and research of members of SIL International who are actively engaged in this type of collaboration and research for impact in language development. The collection of papers was selected from those presented at the Seventh International Language Assessment Conference (ILAC VII), held in Penang, Malaysia, from May 9-16, 2018. The overall theme of ILAC VII was *Understanding the Implications of Multilingualism*. The plenary papers at that conference, from which this collection was selected, focus on the theme of *Research and Collaboration for Impact in Multilingual Communities*.

This theme is designed to help us explore how collaborative research and participation can help address strategy and planning for language programs in multilingual communities. It is explicated by the following research questions:

  •  What is a Practical and Productive Framework for Collaboration and the Collecting of Strategic Information throughout the life of a language program?
  •  How do we best understand the whole Linguistic Ecology, including Language Repertoires, Multilingualism, and Vitality relevant to language programs?
  •  What do we know about The Practice and Importance of Engaging Communities in Planning the Future of their Language relative to the success of language programs? 
  • How do we best Assess Impact such as Scripture Engagement?

About the Editors

John W. Eppele
John W. Eppele

John W. Eppele lived and worked in South and Southeast Asia for over 15 years, conducting surveys or consulting for research of over 200 languages. He now serves as Language Assessment Coordinator for SIL International and LEAD Asia-Pacific (a service unit of SIL, integrating Language, Education and Development in Asia and the Pacific).

Mark E. Karan
Mark E. Karan

Mark E. Karan is a Language Strategy Consultant and Senior Sociolinguistics Consultant for SIL International, and an adjunct professor at Dallas International University. He holds an MA in Linguistics from the University of North Dakota and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. He is particularly interested in the motivational dynamics of language shift and language related choices.

Angela Kluge
Angela Kluge

Angela Kluge is an International Language Assessment Consultant with SIL International, the series editor for Journal of Language Survey Reports, and the head of the German SIL training program Seminar für Sprache und Kultur. Since1992, she has been involved in language survey work (West Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia), doing field research as well as teaching and training language assessment specialists. She holds an MA in Language and Communication Research from the University of Cardiff and a PhD in Linguistics from Leiden University. She is especially interested in the assessment of language clusters and continua and in nonstandard Malay varieties.

Gary F. Simons
Gary F. Simons

Gary F. Simons is the Chief Research Officer for SIL International (Dallas, TX) and Executive Editor of the Ethnologue ( He is also Adjunct Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (Dallas, TX). Early in his career he was involved in language development activities in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.  More recently he has contributed to the development of cyberinfrastructure for linguistics as co-founder of the Open Language Archives Community ( and co-developer of the ISO 639-3 standard of three-letter identifiers for all known languages of the world ( He holds a PhD in general linguistics (with minor emphases in computer science and classics) from Cornell University. He is an author or editor of over 100 publications (

Table of Contents

  • Contributors
  • Introduction
  • A Typology of Language Assessment
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. A Typology of Language Assessment
    • 3. Preparation: “Initial Assessment”
    • 4. Pre-program: “Collaborative Assessment”
    • 5. Program Strategizing: “Strategic Assessment”
    • 6. Ongoing Program: “Ongoing Assessment”
    • 7. Conclusion
    • References
  • A Brief Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluation
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Monitoring
    • 3. Evaluation
    • 4. Relationship of M&E to Ongoing Assessment and Language Programs
    • 5. Learning and Accountability in Language Programs
    • 6. M&E Participants and Methods
      • 6.1 Audience of and Participants in M&E
      • 6.2 Some Common Methods of M&E
        • 6.2.1 Most Significant Change (MSC)
        • 6.2.2 River of Life (ROL)
        • 6.2.3 Outcome Mapping (OM)
        • 6.2.4 Output Tracking (OT)
    • 7. M&E Indicators
      • 7.1 Principles in Developing Indicators
      • 7.2 Direct and Proxy Indicators
      • 7.3 SMART Indicators
      • 7.4 CREAM Indicators
      • 7.5 SPICED Criteria
      • 7.6 Inherent Limitations of Quantitative Indicators
    • 8. Conclusion
    • 9. Resources for Further Study
    • References
  • Assessing Needs for Language Interventions where Urbanization, Diaspora, and Refugee Situations are Relevant Factors
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction: Our Changing Language World
    • 2. Changes in the Object of Study
    • 3. Changes in Assessment Research Questions
    • 4. Changes in Methodology
    • 5. Changes in the Qualifications of Researchers
    • 6. Conclusion
    • References
  • Profiling Language Vitality Levels across a Region: Sabah State Case Study
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Proposed Research Priorities
      • 2.1 Prioritization Process
      • 2.2 Overall Survey Priority Levels for Sabah’s Languages
      • 2.3 Prioritization Factors Applied to Sabah’s Languages
        • 2.3.1 Indigenity
        • 2.3.2 Vehicularity
        • 2.3.3 Speaker Numbers
        • 2.3.4 Resources Status
        • 2.3.5 Existing Survey Requests
        • 2.3.6 Language Development Interest
        • 2.3.7 Language Development Needs Status
        • 2.3.8 Language Development Program Status
        • 2.3.9 Outside Stakeholder Involvement Status
    • 3. Proposed Research Objectives
    • 4. Proposed Survey Methodology
      • 4.1 Tools
        • 4.1.1 Language Mapping Tool
        • 4.1.2 Bilingualism Venn Diagram
        • 4.1.3 Domains of Language Use Tool
        • 4.1.4 Individual Sociolinguistic Questionnaire
      • 4.2 Research Locations and Research Subjects
    • 5. Summary
    • Appendices
      • Appendix A. Language Mapping Tool
      • Appendix B. Bilingualism Venn Diagram
      • Appendix C. Domains of Language Use Tool
      • Appendix D. Individual Sociolinguistic Questionnaire
        • 1. Language Usage
        • 2. Bilingualism
        • 3. Language Attitudes
        • 4. Personal Importance
      • Appendix E. Research Locations and Research Subjects
    • References
  • Language Identification in the 21st Century
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. The Changing Contexts of Language Identification Research
      • 2.1 Theoretical Context
      • 2.2 Cultural Context
      • 2.3 Informational Context
      • 2.4 Language Development Context
      • 2.5 Organizational Context
      • 2.6 Methodological Context
    • 3. Case Studies
      • 3.1 Pair One: Collaboration
        • 3.1.1 SEALANG Asia-Pacific Data Warehouse: Creating a Reusable Database, not just a Single Study
        • 3.1.2 The Angola Language Mapping Project: A Countrywide Sociolinguistic Survey for Multiple Purposes
      • 3.2 Pair Two: Linguistic Ecosystems
        • 3.2.1 Indonesia: “The Land of no Languages”
        • 3.2.2 The Case of the “Missing” Languages: The Linguistic Ecosystem of Southwestern Angola
    • 4. Conclusions
    • 5. Call for Discussion
    • References
  • A Sociolinguistic Study of Bonggi: Summary of a Community-driven, Participatory Approach to Language Development Planning
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Research Objectives
    • 3. Research Methodology
      • 3.1 Research Approach
      • 3.2 Research Team and Participants
      • 3.3 Research Phases
      • 3.4 Research Tools
    • 4. Summary of Results
    • 5. Evaluation of Research Approach
    • 6. Recommendations
    • References
  • SE Research and SURAM: Where to from here?
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction: What Is SURAM
      • 1.1 SURAM Findings
      • 1.2 SURAM Recommendations
      • 1.3 SURAM Methodology
    • 2. Describing SE Research
      • 2.1 PIQUE: Descriptive Categories for SE Research
      • 2.2 SURAM According to PIQUE
      • 2.3 Griffis (2011) and Landin (1990) According to PIQUE
      • 2.4 Elements Unique to SURAM
        • 2.4.1 Large, Multicultural Team
        • 2.4.2 Extended Stay
        • 2.4.3 Consensus Decision-making and Hypotheses/Scales
        • 2.4.4 Consistent/Comparable Location for Data Collection
        • 2.4.5 Mix of Research and Ministry
        • 2.4.6 Conclusion
    • 3. Where to from here?
      • 3.1 Perspective Shifts on SE
        • 3.1.1 What is Failure?
          • SE Failure
          • Questions to Explore Regarding Failure
        • 3.1.2 Innovation
      • 3.2 Perspective Shifts on SE Researchers
      • 3.3 SE Research Methodology
        • 3.3.1 Purpose
        • 3.3.2 Informants: Community rather than Project Leader
        • 3.3.3 Quantitative vs. Qualitative, or Multistage Research?
        • 3.3.4 Unit of Analysis
        • 3.3.5 Extent of Area Researched
        • 3.3.6 Resource Considerations
        • 3.3.7 Focus
        • 3.3.8 Summary
    • 4. Conclusion
    • Bibliography
  • Seed Scattered in Seventy-seven Languages: The State of Scripture Engagement in Nigeria
    • Abstract
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Purpose
    • 3. Previous Studies of Scripture Engagement and How These Affected Our Methodology
      • 3.1 Scripture Engagement Felt Needs of the Church in Congo
      • 3.2 Conditions for Scripture Use in Papua New Guinea
      • 3.3 Scripture Use Research and Ministry in Papua New Guinea
      • 3.4 Interviews and Participant Observation by Locals in Cameroon
    • 4. Methodology
      • 4.1 Brief Research
        • 4.1.1 Sampling Method – Languages and Individuals
        • 4.1.2 Questionnaire
        • 4.1.3 Pilot Testing
        • 4.1.4 Obtaining Completed Questionnaires
      • 4.2 In-depth Research
        • 4.2.1 Participant Observation in Churches
        • 4.2.2 Individual Interviews
        • 4.2.3 Church Leader Interviews
        • 4.2.4 Church Member Participatory Discussions
        • 4.2.5 Collection of Names of Individuals Who Can Read the Mother Tongue Well
    • 5. Results
      • 5.1 Research Question 1.1: Extent of Use in Domains with Greatest Opportunities for Spiritual Growth
      • 5.2 Research Question 1.2: Mother tongue Scripture Use (Church Domain)
        • 5.2.1 Brief Study
        • 5.2.2 Izere
        • 5.2.3 Ekajuk
        • 5.2.4 Mumuye
      • 5.3 Research Question 1.2 (Continued): Mother Tongue Scripture Use (Non-church Context)
        • 5.3.1 Brief Research
        • 5.3.2 Izere
        • 5.3.3 Ekajuk
        • 5.3.4 Mumuye
      • 5.4 Research Question 1.3: Segments of the Community Using Mother Tongue Scriptures
        • 5.4.1 Brief Research
        • 5.4.2 Izere
        • 5.4.3 Ekajuk
        • 5.4.4 Mumuye
      • 5.5 Research Question 1.4: Reasons Stakeholders are Aware of Use/Disuse of Mother Tongue Scriptures
        • 5.5.1 Brief Research
        • 5.5.2 In-depth Research in Izere, Ekajuk and Mumuye
      • 5.6 Research Question 2.1: Literacy Efforts
      • 5.7 Research Question 2.2: Current Levels of Mother Tongue Literacy
      • 5.8 Research Question 3: Church Leadership Support in Multilingual Churches
      • 5.9 Research Question 4: Acceptance of the Standardized Form of Language
      • 5.10 Research Question 5: Availability
      • 5.11 Welser Scale Analysis
    • 6. Conclusions
    • 7. Recommendations
      • 7.1 Recommendations for Promoting Mother Tongue Scripture Engagement in Nigeria
      • 7.2 Recommendations for Future Scripture Engagement Research
    • Appendices
      • Appendix A. Brief Research Questionnaire
      • Appendix B. Participatory Methods Instructions
    • References
  • Notes

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