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7000 languages

Bringing world-class technology to under-resourced languages.

The 7000 Languages Project
and Transparent Language's HELP Program

In April 2013, Transparent Language launched the 7000 Languages Project, an expanded effort to make world-class technology for language learning and teaching freely available to the proponents and practitioners of under-resourced languages.
The 7000 Languages Project is the successor effort to Transparent Language's
Heritage and Endangered Languages Preservation Program (HELPP), which operated from 2009 to 2013.

7000 languages project

The 7000 Languages Project is a non-profit effort to make world-class language learning technology available to language teams working with lesser-known and under-resourced languages.

According to Ethnologue, there are approximately 7,105 living languages in the world. The mission of the 7000 Languages Project is to offer the best available technology for free use by the proponents and practitioners of those languages mostly ignored by commercial interests, "the earth's other 7,000 languages." There is no charge for participation in the project and language teams retain ownership of their content.

Until early 2013, Transparent Language supported these same types of projects under its HELP Program. For more information on HELPP, look below.

The big, new idea in the expanded program, now called the 7000 Languages Project, is partnering with other expert organizations who will step up to provide the necessary technical and project support to language teams that they vet and select. Doing so should allow us to support many more language teams.

In April of 2013, the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL, usually pronounced "nickel tickle") became the first 7000 Languages Project Facilitation Organization.

The NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership

The first official 7000 Languages Facilitation Organization is NCOLCTL, the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages. The NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership was announced during the opening plenary session of the 2013 NCOLCTL Annual Conference in Chicago on April 26, 2013.

Who is involved in the NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership?
The principal participants in the NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership are
  • Transparent Language, the executive organization for the 7000 Languages Project. Transparent Language is donating the core software assets, as well as providing training and support to NCOLCTL.
  • NCOLCTL and the NCOLCTL 7000 Committee, chaired by Antonia Schleicher, Executive Director of NCOLCTL.
  • Each of the various 7000 Languages Project language teams, not yet selected.
Who can apply to become a 7000 Languages Project language team?
Any individual, group, or organization with a passion for a particular language of limited commercial interest is welcome to contact the NCOLCTL 7000 Committee about participating. Antonia Schleicher is the Executive Director of that committee, and her contact information can be found below.
If your language team is accepted by NCOLCTL for the 7000, the NCOLCTL 7000 Committee will provide you and your team with technology and support, and will work with you to build out and disseminate an impressive array of courseware and other materials to support the teaching and learning of your language.
What does it cost?
Normally, there is no charge. Transparent Language donates the core technology and resources and provides support to the 7000 Partnerships, such as NCOLCTL. NCOLCTL is using its own resources to support the NCOLCTL 7000 Committee's efforts. Language teams do not have to pay to participate in the Project, but they need to support their own travel or labor expenses. If a 7000 Language Team sells materials from the 7000 Languages Project, they need to pay a royalty, but when materials are given away for free, which we expect will usually be the case, there is no royalty or other payment involved.
If technical work needs to be done to create a new computer font or other fundamental technical language support, there may be costs associated with that effort. However, it's almost always possible to create materials that use the Latin alphabet or another common language script for free.
How much work does a language team need to do?
Of course, it depends. We estimate that a basic "Quick Start" project focusing on the 100 or so most generally useful common words and phrases in a language might be done with as little as one person-week of work, and will result in an impressive suite of world-class and very powerful learning materials and courseware.
Who owns the content?
The Language Project Team that creates the content retains ownership of the content. Transparent Language, Inc. retains ownership of the core 7000 Languages Project technology that they are donating for use in the Project. Each owner grants various rights to each other and to the 7000 Languages Project, so that the technology and content can be disseminated and used as intended.
What can our language team do with the 7000 Languages Project deliverables that are made?
Transparent Language, Inc. grants 7000 Languages Project language teams a fairly broad set of rights to disseminate and distribute the resulting Project Materials (courseware, learningware, mobileware, and other materials) via their own web site, on DVD, or by other appropriate means. These rights include royalty-free use of web, laptop/desktop, and mobile software and systems that deliver powerful and pedagogically-effective user experiences based on the project content, as long as the materials are given away by the language team, rather than being sold.
7000 Languages Project language teams grant Transparent Language the right to disseminate project materials royalty free, as long as materials are given away. The materials may also be included at no extra charge in broad (50+ language) offerings to libraries, schools, and others and can be made available at no charge on the NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership web site; rather than being sold.

For further information on the NCOLCTL 7000 Partnership or to apply to NCOLCTL as a 7000 Languages Project language team, please contact:

Antonia Schleicher, Executive Director, NCOLCTL 7000 Languages Project Committee., 812-856-4191.

For further information on the 7000 Languages Project, please contact:

Michael Quinlan, CEO, Transparent Language, Inc., 603-262-6303.

Heritage and Endangered Languages Preservation Program

Transparent Language has long been committed to supporting the learning and teaching of languages, regardless of how remote or small the community for that language. Our CEO, Michael Quinlan, once put it this way: "We live in an age of global interaction. No language is so small that no one needs to learn it. If we could, we would provide learning material for all 7,000 languages in the world."

As of April 2013, the HELP Program has now been superseded by the 7000 Languages Project (see above), but you may be interested on some of the great HELPP projects we've had the honor to be involved with over the years:

Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia

Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia

The ultimate goal of GIM is to produce language products that are so widely used that indigenous people develop a common speaking base. GIM hopes to see people getting together to study with their software products. As a nonprofit enterprise, GIM is set up to share, for the cost of training, their expertise in using this software with any indigenous nation that finds it useful. GIM has already seen some interest from other indigenous groups and hopes to get much more.

In this excerpt from a February 4, 2009 press release: Using Computers to Learn and Preserve Indigenous Languages, Transparent Language explains how it provided its software tools and training free of charge to the nonprofit organization Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia (GIM), founded by Mary Hermes and her husband Kevin. The organization's mission lies in developing curriculum materials especially designed to teach Ojibwe and other First Nation languages. Ojibwe is currently the third most widely taught indigenous language in North America after Navajo and Cherokee.

Manitoba First Nations Educational Resource Centre

Manitoba First Nations Educational Resource Centre

The Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), established in 1999, was given a mandate by the Chiefs of Manitoba to provide second and third level education services to fifty-five First Nations schools in Manitoba. The MFNERC facilitates a community education process based on First Nations' needs, priorities, and education plans. The MFNERC is actively involved in promoting community development by providing training and coordinating opportunities for families and other community members.

As part of this effort, the MFNERC has worked with several First Nations groups to develop language-learning material for use in Transparent Language's Byki learning system. This effort has resulted in the publishing of Byki software programs for learning Cree, Dakota, and two dialects of Ojibwe. The programs are made available to First Nations schools and community groups in Manitoba by the MFNERC. For more information contact MFNERC at



BASA: Balinese Language Preservation Corp is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to bring together experts on Balinese language and culture to create the first multimedia language materials for spoken Balinese and the endangered Balinese script and to more generally promote the use and understanding of Balinese.

BASAbali's volunteer team of Balinese linguists, writers, actors, videographers and others are working to create courses, supplemental vocabulary, and general cultural information to help preserve and promote the Balinese culture and language. Transparent Language is very pleased to support this effort.