SECOND Language Acquisition

Day #2 in Language Acquisition and we’re already so exhausted! We now realize in full why they told us not to even attempt support raising while we’re here and just focus on studies. It’s not that we have lots of homework, tests, or even assignments in general. It’s just that there is so much information given in so short a time period with hardly any time in between to process. The information is amazingly wonderful and useful, but it’s so different from our normal way of thinking that our minds are just screaming at us to “LEAVE ME ALONE! Let me go to bed!!” Which is very shortly coming up on my to-do list this evening. 🙂

Many people have been thinking that this language course is teaching us Spanish – that’s it’s actually language school. That is not the case! This is a course teaching us how to learn Spanish (or Arabic or Russian or whatever other language people here need to learn). It’s actually geared toward people who will not be attending language school, so the instructors have asked Brian and I to evaluate the class when it’s over next week – meeting with the instructors to talk about how helpful we think it was. There are very few missionaries who go overseas without formal training somewhere in the agenda for their target language, so apparently we’re just continuing our theme of breaking missionary rules!

Our days now consist of learning all 25 of the principles and activities they’re going to give us to learn a language; learning phonetics – training our ears and mouths to recognize new sounds and reproduce them; developing our own personal action plan for learning a new language; and working with actual “Language Helpers” who have been brought in from the community here to help us. Tomorrow is our first day with an “LH” from the community; Monday we worked with someone on staff. My team is working with a lady from Russia – should be fun! We have different techniques we will be using with her and I actually just got back from a planning meeting with my team to figure out our schedule for tomorrow. And in case you were wondering, Brian and I were not allowed to be in the same group; Brian will be working with a lady who speaks Cebuana (from the Far East).

One of the things we’re most excited about is actually sitting down and working with the phonetics professional here one on one. He’s going to meet with everyone individually next week and help us figure out how to make sounds that are unique to the language we will be working in. He is a Wycliffe missionary and the man has an impeccable ear! He may not be able to speak more than 3 languages, but he can hear sounds in every language that most of us did not even know were happening. So, that will be incredibly helpful! We will also be working with the staff to help us with our game plan for learning Spanish when we get to Peru, and even what (little) we can do now.

Basically, this course has already altered my view on learning another language. I’m no longer a big fan of language schools; I’d much rather follow this method and learn as a child learns their first language – which is basically lots and lots of listening and mimicry, even though you sound atrocious!

We got another version of 1 Corinthians 13, for the language learner. I just really liked this one, too, so I thought I’d end tonight with this version. Thank you for your prayers! We’ll keep you posted…

“If I have the language ever so perfectly and speak like a local, and have not the love that grips the heart, I am – nothing. If I have decorations and diplomas and am proficient in up-to-date methods and have not the touch of understanding love, I am nothing. If I am able to worst my opponents in an argument so as to make fools of them, and have not the wooing note, I am nothing. If I have all faith and great ideals and magnificent plans and wonderful visions, and have not the love that sweats and bleeds and weeps and prays and pleads, I am nothing. If I can heal all manner of sickness and disease, but wound hearts and hurt feelings for want of love that is kind, I am nothing. If I write books and publish articles that set the world agape and fail to transcribe the word of the cross in the language of love, I am nothing. Worse, I may be competent, busy, fussy, punctilious, and well-equipped, but like the church of Laodicea – nauseating to Christ. If I surrender all prospects, and leaving home and friends and comforts, give myself to the showy sacrifice of a missionary career, and turn sour and selfish amid the daily annoyances and personal slights of a missionary life, and though I give my body to be consumed in the heat and sweat and mildew of India [Lima, Peru], and have not the love that yields its rights, its coveted leisure, its pet plans, I am nothing, nothing. Virtue has ceased to go out of me.”

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