Learning a new language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in life. It opens the door of communication, cultural understanding, and personal relationships that otherwise would be impossible.
Also, learning a new language is one of the most challenging things you can do in life. It takes determination and a willingness to try speaking, even when it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Below are 3 keys that I have observed from watching senior missionaries and short-term missions workers, as well as my own experience.
Personal Sessions with a Native Speaker
You will learn a language faster and more effectively if you learn directly from a native speaker. Even before you go on a missions trip, find a person in your city that speaks the language fluently. Personal sessions over a cup of coffee can help you learn popular phrases, proper pronunciation, and the culture better than any self-taught book. Also, it gives you the opportunity to share why you are going on missions, and perhaps you can win your first soul before even packing your bags. 🙂
(When you arrive on the mission field you can reverse this process and offer free English lessons to native speakers, allowing you to form contacts and learn from them as well.)
Enroll in Scheduled Learning
We all have good intentions, but good intentions are not enough in learning a language. You must enroll yourself in a program that offers scheduled learning. Depending on your situation, you can enroll in online lessons or when you arrive on the mission field you can take weekly or monthly courses. If you feel called to stay in a country for a longer period, then enroll in the university. In Romania, universities offer a language course for foreign students coming to study in the country. The course is called “preparatory year.” All these programs depend upon your schedule.
Trust the Process
Language study can be so frustrating. One day you can learn a key piece of grammar, to which you joyfully return home feeling like you have mastered the language, to only find out the next day that the rule has many exceptions. You will want to give up. You will want to, “just stick with English ministry.” Your brain will hurt with all the ways to say what seems to us as, “just a simple English phrase.”
I encourage you to trust the process. Follow the principles of daily study, boldly trying to communicate, and not giving up. Enjoy every victory no matter how small it might seem. One day, very soon, you will stand to sing, teach, and preach in a new language.
Winston Churchill once said these very wise words, “Never, never, never give up.”
My experience may be different from yours. If you have an idea or an experience that you would like to share, please leave it in the comment section below.