LingCrop – Papua New Guinea – $20,000/year

Project Description

Dr René van den Berg with LingCrop trainees
Photo credit: René van den Berg

The LingCrop (Linguistics Consultant Resourcing of PNG) project was launched in August 2021.
LingCrop is a three-year mentored program of training for well-educated Papua New Guineans to become linguistics consultants with SIL-PNG or Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea (BTA). This project is designed to build capacity in PNG linguistics graduates, by providing employment, training, mentoring and linguistic field experience so that they can contribute to language development efforts in PNG and possibly in the region. The participants in this program will make a direct contribution to the cause of education and development in PNG. The services they provide will include basic language documentation, orthography development, and research on linguistics factors relevant to literacy, education, teacher training, and the translation of important information including health literature.

Three university graduates each year will be recruited into the program, provided individualised mentoring by SIL linguistics consultants, undertake practical linguistic training at the Pacific Institute of Languages, Arts and Translation (PILAT) and carry out linguistic research and consulting in the languages of PNG. They will present their research at linguistics conferences and publish their findings.

LingCrop trainees mentoring local translators
Photo credit: René van den Berg


There is much linguistic work that could be carried out to document PNG languages, design orthographies, provide grammatical and phonological descriptions and to utilise all these to support the production of vernacular and bridging educational materials. Educated local citizens are best placed to engage in these activities, but there are very few opportunities for employment, advanced training, guided research, field supervision and related materials production and publication. Until languages have linguistically and sociolinguistically sound orthographies, efforts to provide relevant and accessible education for children and adults are severely limited. Basic linguistic analysis is necessary to support education and social and economic development. In addition, languages that are dying or at risk need to be documented as a valuable resource for cultural and social heritage.

It is believed that capable PNG citizens are best placed to provide consultant input to local language projects. Two universities in PNG, University of PNG and University of Goroka, offer undergraduate degrees in linguistics but job opportunities for graduates are very limited and there is far more linguistic research work possible than in-country institutions can support. The LingCrop program will provide a number of university graduates with training and employment as linguistic consultants for language development efforts.


Dr René van den Berg, an SIL International senior linguistics consultant with many years of experience in translation, linguistics, research and training, will lead the training, assisted by a team of seven mentors, each with (or close to completing) an MA in linguistics.

The training involves:

  • short courses in domains such as phonology, orthography, linguistic software, discourse analysis
  • personal study time
  • professional development in areas such as English skills, presentation skills and interpersonal skills
  • applied training which includes serving as mentors at various courses run by PILAT and visiting language development projects to provide support and encouragement.

Three trainees with BA degrees in linguistics from the University of PNG have been selected as the first participants in this program. They have relocated to Ukarumpa (EHP) where SIL-PNG has its main centre and have begun their studies.

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