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Pondering popcorn creates “taste” for Tokples usage October 15, 2012 – Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Catherine Rivard with Tim Scott It was like nothing she had ever seen before. Susan reached back into the brown paper bag and pulled out another piece. What was it? Her eyebrows pulled together in confusion as she searched for the right words. We were in the second week of the literacy course in Saidor, Madang, and Susan was sitting back-to-back with her fellow Ngaing speakers who were trying to guess what she was experiencing. “Keep describing,” they urged her. “What does it look like?” “It’s small,” she continued in Ngaing, “and firm, but breakable, with lots of little holes all over it. It’s white, with little specks of brown... and bumpy.” She put a piece in her mouth, slowly chewing. “It kind of tastes like corn, but it’s not like corn at all. There is oil...and salt. It’s really delicious!” “It’s popcorn!” her teammates exclaimed, turning around to confirm their guess of the delicacy. This was a creative writing class like they had never experienced before! For the month of August, 20 national teachers from 8 different languages scattered around the Rai Coast, gathered together for an intense teacher training, led by nine expat and national staff. It launched a series of month-long modules to be held over the next several years assisting rural teachers. We endeavoured to work alongside the PNG Education Department to help teachers understand the irreplaceable value of using the local language in education before introducing a foreign language like English or even Tok Pisin (trade language). Thus, classes included principles and practices of literacy, fluency, book production, curriculum creation, and materials development as well as leadership, finances, health, raising community awareness, and personal Bible study methods. When the community cannot read or does not value the local language, Bible translations sit unused on dusty shelves. Throughout this course, participants grinned their enthusiasm as they experienced firsthand the value and vividness of their own languages—including when describing popcorn! SIL-PNG known as “Summer Institute of Linguistics” in Papua New Guinea is a faith-based non-profit organization committed to serving language communities throughout Papua New Guinea as they build capacity for sustainable language development. PNG Bible Translation Association is a Papua New Guinean organisation committed to translating the Bible into the languages of the country. For more information on this release, contact SIL-PNG, PO BOX 413, EHP 444, Papua New Guinea Phone: 011 + 675 + 537-4431 or Email: DO-CCO@sil.org.pg “Yumi Stori” is the PNG “Tok Pisin” term for “Let’s talk” or “Let’s have a conversation”


VERA Literacy (Vernaculer Education)