September 2015


According to the statistics quoted by the Orality Network approximately 5.7 billion people in this world are oral learners; they are considered to have basic or below basic literacy skills. Others, although their literacy skills are not lacking, are oral preference communicators. These are defined as those who “learn or process information by spoken rather than literate means” and “prefer non-print forms of communication.” Please see:

The vast majority of western missions work and much of the training I saw carried out in SE Asia has been created and delivered to meet the needs of a literate audience. As a result much of the target audience is not able to connect with the material and fully grasp the message of the Gospel. People in oral societies are very relational – they share their lives with one another and communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry. Please see:

TWR has been involved in meeting the needs of oral learners through broadcasts over both radio and now the internet and have contributed to discussions on oral communications for many years. The International Orality Network was formed in 2005 as an extension of the Making Disciples of Oral Learners Working Group of the 2004 Lausanne Forum on World Evangelism. The network seeks to increase awareness of orality and oral preference learners and to build a network of churches, missions and individuals who are working with oral communicators. It is also a source of training, materials and strategies that utilize storying programs and art forms. One of the resources available is the Orality Journal which is an international and interdisciplinary online journal published twice a year to encourage discussion through research articles, book reviews and academic updates. Please see:

The people of Cambodia are predominantly oral preference learners and the strategies of Community Health Education that we used in our project are specifically designed for oral learners. My colleague and mentor Dr Su Min Lim and I were recently asked to contribute an article for the Orality Journal which would document the use of the “Ten Seed Technique”. This is a particular participatory tool that we used to assist oral learners to talk about the problem of alcohol abuse in their community and the extent of the social and financial burden related to alcohol use. The article was published in this month’s Orality Journal. Please see:

The Ten Seed Technique with Village Leaders in Southeast Asia……. 49

Lim Su Min and Pam Wise

Two seasoned practitioners document a participatory method used
by an indigenous NGO to engage communities in addressing the
problem of alcoholism.