mw 12 learn language

Language Learning

Overall Hints by Jim Found, 2-13-09:

Spend more time in review each day than you do on new material.

Take charge of your own progress – do not be limited to what is in the textbook.

Buy a different beginner’s textbook and learn from both at the same time.
One often helps you get insights that you didn’t’ clearly understand in the other.

Buy computer software for that language.

Use every avenue of learning – listening, speaking writing.
Listen to tapes, watch TV programs or DVD’s in that language.

Organize your self-learning in terms of being able to “do things.” Examples:
Being able to ask where something is.
Being able to buy a postage stamp
Being able to order a ticket

Read words in the context of sentences – don’t just memorize individual words. Why?
It will give you an automatic review of words that are used most frequently.
It will internally give you a richer definition of each word than you get from a dictionary.
Most words change their meanings slightly according to the way they are used.
You can only get his fuller range of meaning when you read entire sentences.

If you have a language partner, you could:
Point to places on a picture and have the person say the words.
Have the person describe what’s going on in a comic strip.
Do role playing: you are the customer, the language partner is the clerk.
Record what the person is saying, and listen to it often to improve your listening ability.

 

Additional hints from interviews done by students:

From LS, 2004

Interview with Jim F, missionary to Taiwan for 11 years (2/5/04).
He spent a lot of time memorizing vocab and then using it in the community.  He felt like it took him 5 years to have mastered the language.

One reason it was important to learn the language was because often he would start a conversation in English, but whenever the conversation turned to deeper material the Chinese person would always switch to Chinese.

He would draw cartoons of things he felt he needed to know how to say and he would ask 3 teachers to give him a dialogue of what he drew.  He said this was a lot more useful than learning sentences like the pencil is on the table.

When he was asked to speak at a church with three other people he chose to use the limited amount of words he knew and just talked, the other two used written presentations.  Some of the people expressed to professor Found that they could understand him over their regular pastor because he didn’t use all these technical terms.  He would just say simply that Jesus died on the cross for their sins.

 

Interview with MD and SD (2/12/04)

One struggle of learning the Korean language is that it is tonal and that caused problem because they would speak moving all over the place with pitch when you have to talk at one level.  They had to beware of offending people by not adding a word that showed respect in front of how they addressed some people.  They said you either use a language or you lose it.

 

Interview with EB and PB (2/9/04)
Learning the language of the culture you are in can take from 6 months to 3 years.   Learning the language is well worth your effort and the nationals will love you for putting effort into trying to learn their language.

 

Interview with WF and FF (3/18/04)
She learned very good Chinese by speaking it on the streets and in the markets.  Wendell learned Chinese in the classroom which gave them a completely different vocabulary.  Faith said that Wendell had a very theological vocabulary.

Chinese is a difficult language, especially in writing.  Every word has a different character.  Learning to read is very overwhelming.

Chinese is also difficult because it is tonal.  You can mistakenly say joyfully lay an egg instead of Merry Christmas if your tones aren’t right.

If he wanted to get something across he would ask 2 or 3 ways to say it.  If this doesn’t work the first time than he would try another way and take notes on what he had said.

 

Dr. B, missionary to Nigeria said this (Tuesday March 23, 2004):

EB went among the people with no formal language training, but he had the language all around him.  He began to sense what they were saying.

EB felt he failed completely at learning a people’s language, so he went back on furlough and he decided he would go back and learn linguistics or he wouldn’t go back.  EB learned a lot while going to the summer institute of linguistics and then later studied at UCLA.

It is not easy to learn a language and you cannot learn it in the classroom.  You have to learn it where it is spoken.  That is the best place to learn a language.  There is a place for tape recording and trying to learn the grammar, but it can never replace being their among the people.

Every language has its peculiar, special, and unique things that make it a very beautiful language and a language of its own.

The tribe EB worked with felt they were inferior because they thought their language couldn’t be written.  They thought trying to write the language would prove that they were inferior and primitive.  When the missionaries began learning the language and finding out the language, the people got more interested and it led to the conversion of many, because they were proud of their language and the translated Bible.

 

Interview with RH:

He had to learn pigeon English and learned a little of the Enga language.  He found a trilingual person who also knew the Epli language which was the language of his people group.  Worked on learning language with this trilingual person.

He would also watch kids play and talk because they talk slower.

He would record things and play them over and over again.

Before going on the field he was given 3 weeks of linguistic study.

The greatest statement of respect you can give to people is learning their language.  Even if you do it poorly they will love you for trying.

 

Class material on learning a new language for the mission field:

Info from textbook Missions: Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies by Gailyn Van Rheenen-

Language learning is the most important tool of culture learning 60

Info from textbook Stepping Out: A Guide to Short Term Missions

Learning a person’s language is an indication of your respect and acceptance.  You may not get too far beyond greetings if your term is short, but you’re sure to be rewarded with smiles and good will.  149

 

Ideas from MM, 2003

Pronunciation is very important because saying a word one way may mean something innocent, but saying it slightly different could make the word mean something completely different.

The older you get, the more difficult it is to learn a new language.

Certain languages are built off of a similar root system.

Pitch makes a difference in some languages

Sentence structure is different in different languages

No matter how much you prepare and learn before you go to another language area you wont be completely ready.

What you are taught in a school may not always be useful

Talk to your sponsor to find out your options on where, and how you can learn.  There may be different options available to you with different success rates.

Just because one language is not difficult doesn’t mean that others wont be.

Don’t worry too much about making mistakes while speaking; people will give you an amount of understanding because you are a foreigner.  Besides no matter how hard you try you are bound to make a mistake sooner or later.

You can’t really accomplish much work until you have gotten a decent grasp on the language.

Draw cartoons of everyday activities.  Then ask someone how to say what’s going to be said by the people in the drawings.  If you can tape them.

Languages take a long time to learn, but it is worth it.

If you don’t learn a new language you are really limited, especially if you’re in a non English culture without knowing their language.

Keep saying things in the cultures language, it will seem artificial at first but soon it will become natural.

If you can’t easily communicate with someone it will be very hard to form a relationship with them.

 

Language Learning:

Being thrown into a new language creates barriers instantly between a missionary and a native.  It makes communicating the gospel that much harder because many times a conversation may finish and you may not know if there was clear or miscommunication.  There are many methods to learning a new language for the most part it is whatever works best for the person but the big step is practicing the method that works for you over and over.  The ideas are studying the language and knowing the basics but then practicing it in the public.  Whether it is asking people what how to say certain objects or learning simple phrases and then trying to carry on the conversation further. With miscommunication you can build even better relationships.  One of the favorite quotes I have comes from a missionary from Bangladesh, “Language learning is relationship is ministry.”  God’s love may be shown in all ways especially language learning.  Relationships may be built which makes for more comfortable discussions.  NM

 

Earl and Phyllis Bracewell missionaries to Papua New Guinea said this (Thursday February 19, 2004)-

 

One of the struggles in Vietnam is that you can’t gather people at all and street corner evangelism is also forbidden.

 

Pastor in Vietnam has entered by working with nutrition programs.  Also there are 3 or 4 other missionaries there working with ESL.

 

Earl sees some importance to meeting people’s physical needs in this situation and knowing how to wait.  He says essentially it is waiting on God.

 

The government would check to make sure they were being honest.  LCMS in Vietnam doesn’t stand for anything.  One missionary was questioned on this and he honestly told the answer.  The person questioning him was trying to make sure they were being honest.  LS

 

Missionaries talking about learning a new language:

 

Jim Found missionary to Taiwan for 11 years said this (Thursday February 5, 2004)-

 

LCMS switched from 1 year of language study to 2 years before Professor Found went.  He thought he wouldn’t be able to do it.

 

Professor Found spent a lot of time memorizing vocab and then using it in the community.

 

Professor Found felt like it took him 5 years to have mastered the language.

 

One reason it was important to learn the language was because often he would start a conversation in English, but whenever the conversation turned to deeper material the Chinese person would always switch to Chinese.

 

Professor Found would draw cartoons of things he felt he needed to know how to say and he would ask 3 teachers to give him a dialogue of what he drew.  He said this was a lot more useful than learning sentences like the pencil is on the table.

 

When professor Found was asked to speak at a church with three other people he chose to use the limited amount of words he knew and just talked, the other two used written presentations.  Some of the people expressed to professor Found that they could understand him over their regular pastor because he didn’t use all these technical terms.  He would just say simply that Jesus died on the cross for their sins.

 

Maynard and Shirley Dorow missionaries to South Korea for 40 years said this (Thursday February 12, 2004)-

 

One struggle of learning the Korean language is that it is tonal and that caused problem because they would speak moving all over the place with pitch when you have to talk at one level.

 

The Dorows also had to beware of offending people by not adding a word that showed respect in front of how they addressed some people.

 

The Dorows said you either use a language or you lose it.

 

Earl and Phyllis Bracewell missionaries to Papua New Guinea said this (Thursday February 19, 2004)-

 

Learning the language of the culture you are in can take from 6 months to 3 years.

 

Learning the language is well worth your effort and the nationals will love you for putting effort into trying to learn their language.

 

Wendell and Faith Friest missionaries to Taiwan said this (Thursday March 18, 2004):

 

Faith learned very good Chinese by speaking it on the streets and in the markets.  Wendell learned Chinese in the classroom which gave them a completely different vocabulary.  Faith said that Wendell had a very theological vocabulary.

 

Chinese is a difficult language, especially in writing.  Every word has a different character.  Learning to read is very overwhelming.

 

Chinese is also difficult because it is tonal.  You can mistakenly say joyfully lay an egg instead of Merry Christmas if your tones aren’t right.

 

If Wendell wanted to get something across he would ask 2 or 3 ways to say it.  If this doesn’t work the first time than he would try another way and take notes on what he had said.  LS

It is not easy to learn a language and you cannot learn it in the classroom.  You have to learn it where it is spoken.  That is the best place to learn a language.  There is a place for tape recording and trying to learn the grammar, but it can never replace being their among the people.

 

Every language has its peculiar, special, and unique things that make it a very beautiful language and a language of its own.

 

The tribe EB worked with felt they were inferior because they thought their language couldn’t be written.  They thought trying to write the language would prove that they were inferior and primitive.  When the missionaries began learning the language and finding out the language, the people got more interested and it led to the conversion of many, because they were proud of their language and the translated Bible.

 

Robert Holst missionary to Papua New Guinea said this (Friday April 30, 2004):

He had to learn pigeon English and learned a little of the Enga language.  He found a trilingual person who also knew the Epli language which was the language of his people group.  Worked on learning language with this trilingual person.

 

He would also watch kids play and talk because they talk slower.

 

He would record things and play them over and over again.

 

Before going on the field he was given 3 weeks of linguistic study.

 

The greatest statement of respect you can give to people is learning their language.  Even if you do it poorly they will love you for trying.  LS

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