Acquire the language you will speak in the field where God is sending you. Learn it in a way that enables you to bond with the people and their culture. Speak it with little or no accent, building relationships in the process. Language learning is best done through much interaction with ordinary folk, while one is residing among them in their culture. Avoid classroom-based language learning programs. A program that has been highly effective for missionaries is called
LAMP, Language Acquisition Made Practical (http://instantweb.com/l/linguahouse/Welcome.html).
1. The LAMP method, developed by Brewster & Brewster, is a self-teaching method that requires much conversation with local folk, which enables you to control your own learning process. It is structured around a daily learning cycle, which, if followed in a disciplined manner, normally enables one to learn a language very quickly while developing vital relationships with folk in the process.
2. If the LAMP method proves impractical for you, then use another program that allows for maximal conversation with local folk.
However, some learners need the incentives provided by a more traditional, classroom or formal tutors.
3. If you must follow a traditional language-learning program, then supplement it on your own with ample conversation practice with local folk.
Review everything you learn at once with them, speaking in sentences, explaining to them what you are trying to learn. Ask them to correct your pronunciation.
4. Get someone who is not shy to correct your pronunciation.
You may need to send recordings to an experienced phonetics teacher. Although most people will overlook your poor grammar and errors in vocabulary, they simply will not endure (for long) a disagreeable accent. While some people enjoy hearing your accent, but not if it so butchers the sounds that they have to strain constantly to understand you. This is very disagreeable and will limit your ministry.
Remember, pronunciation includes the intonation of entire sentences (the “sing song” pattern that all languages have).
5. Pray for God’s help to get you over your excessive shyness.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Talk a lot! Practice! Some perfectionists never learn a language well, because they refuse to say anything until they are sure they can say it right. This sounds logical, but it results in staying mute.
JUST DO IT! IT’S FUN!
Based on Language Acquisition Made Easy (LAMP), Brewster & Brewster
Language learners must recognize three facts:
- Language is cultural. We learn it best by living within the culture, not by merely going to classes and practicing with a helper.
- Language is communication. It is best learned through two-way exchanges with ordinary people, not by passively listening to a teacher.
- Language is social. It is best learned by joining in different kinds of group activities (family, neighbors, work place, social events and worship events), not by sitting at home memorizing word lists.
Goal: Missionaries learn to converse easily in the people’s language, without a bad accent.
[ ] Planned (date): _______________________
[ ] Practice confirmed (date): ______________.
A. Five Daily Tasks to Learn a Language Well
To speak a language without a heavy accent, one should give all his time to learning it. Those who spend most of their time on another task almost never learn to speak well. To learn a language without going to a formal language school, the writers recommend Brewster’s method of Five Daily Tasks.
- With a helper, choose the phrases to practice today.
- Listen to them and repeat them many times with your helper.
- 3. Practice them with many neighbors and friends the same day.
- 4. Plan what you are going to learn tomorrow.
- Check your progress and review what was difficult.
Find a Helper. The first two steps use a helper who speaks the language well and is prepared to spend an hour each morning with you. It is best if he can speak a little of your own language. Do not call him a “teacher” but “helper;” because his task is not to teach you the language, but to enable you to learn it on your own. You must control the learning process; he only helps you to hear and to repeat the phrases, and explains their meaning.…Read more.