The Theory of The First Year (4 of 5) Language

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People who teach you how to learn languages, (and I think most language learners would agree), will tell you that you can learn a language quicker if you put yourself in an environment where you are forced to learn the language, such as you move in with a local family who only speaks the target language. I am not suggesting you move in with a family, but the idea is if you were only forced to speak their language, and nobody else spoke your native language, that would be the best thing for you.

This means you need to work on creating this environment the best you can.

But many things fight against this…

  • Today, many places have people who can speak English. Of course, it is not the majority of people, but there’s enough English speakers in large cities that we can get around by speaking English. So we can feel there is no need to speak the local language. With English speakers present (and an iPhone), there is less reason to learn the language in today’s word (at least that is what we tell ourselves).
  • Or you live with a spouse who speaks well, and they speak for you. Therefore, you don’t have to speak or learn the language as well.

So creating this environment of learning…

…entirely depends on you and your drive to learn the language.

Back to sacrificing…to do this you will have to sacrifice things that you like and enjoy for the sake of learning the language. This is not something you will enjoy doing, but that is precisely why we call it a sacrifice.

So here are some thoughts to consider…

  • For those who do deputation before language school, this is even harder. Towards the end of deputation, you are excelling and exceeding in our prefield ministry and are on top of the proverbial mountain. Arriving on the mission field means you are back in the valley. Most aren’t ready for that change. This is where breakdowns happen.
  • If you are not going to work with a missionary who has a language school already established with students going through it, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to fall trap to many of these things that I wrote about, and it will be harder to create this environment (being overwhelmed by everything new–culture shock).
  • If you are going out on your own, it might seem good because you are no longer relying on anybody but the locals to learn the language. But often that falls through. Just throwing stuff together usually doesn’t work. You might say you are doing language school, but there’s no real plan if you are honest. Time is ticking away… ticking away at the first year that is so foundational. Have a real plan.

Therefore, sacrifice what is needed to make an environment of learning. Have a plan. A real plan about how you are going to learn the language. Do real school, but don’t just rely on it. You need an environment of learning. You have one year, give it your best shot! You can do it!

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