SIL International has been working in many countries around the world for more than 75 years to study, develop and document the world's lesser-known languages. This work has not only contributed to national and international understanding of the richness of human languages, but has also served to contribute to the well-being of the peoples themselves. Partnerships are formed with host governments, non-governmental organizations and universities, more than 15,000 people have been trained through cooperative programes between educational institutions and SIL. There are 7,105 languages spoken in the world (Ethnologue 17th), SIL have more than 1,980 active language projects spoken by 1.6 billion people (current as per 2011).
In 1983 the East Asia Group of SIL International began seeking out cooperative linguistic opportunities with partners in the People's Republic of China.