INTRAC and the Universities of Reading and Portsmouth are collaborating on a three-year research project (2015 – 2018) titled The Listening Zones of NGOs: Languages and Cultural Knowledge in Development Programmes. With funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), we are exploring the role that languages and cultural knowledge play in the policies and practices of development NGOs.


At a workshop in January 2014, representatives from a range of NGOs came together to explore the challenges they faced in using languages in their work. The workshop revealed that language issues do not tend to have a high profile within organisations; formal language policies are often not in place; and translation and interpretation needs are often under-funded.

About the project

The research project explores several key issues:

  • Languages and power relations in the development process
  • Organisational awareness of languages and language policies
  • Language provision, including working with translators and interpreters
  • Communicating with key audiences and partners

It aims to raise the profile and importance of languages and cultural knowledge in development, and produce practical outputs which are of use to the sector. Workshops will be organised to share research findings and provide NGO practitioners with an opportunity to shape the research. The first workshop is on 2 November 2016.

Who is involved?

A partnership between academics and practitioners, the research is led by Professor Hilary Footitt, with Dr. Wine Tesseur (University of Reading), alongside Dr. Angela Crack (University of Portsmouth), Vicky Brehm (INTRAC Research Associate), and Sarah Lewis (INTRAC Research Officer).

Our Advisory Group is composed of NGO staff as well as language professionals with an understanding of development practice. Find out more.

 Want to find out more and receive regular updates?

 Contact Sarah Lewis. 


University-of-Reading-Logo university-of-portsmouth-logo
The Listening Zones of NGOs is funded by: arts__humanities_research_council_logo