The prospect of learning a new culture and language is a daunting and intimidating one. How do you do that? How long will it take me to get it all in my brain? Missionaries with Ethnos Canada and our global partners have been using a system that they called CLAware, a software application that aids in that time-consuming but very vital part of becoming fluent in a language.
Recently, the CLA team has been developing another app ready for use. Bill Davis, the International Language and Linguistics Consultant as well as the CLA Development Coordinator, told about it.
“Ethnos missionaries are committed to obeying the Great Commission by planting thriving churches among every people group. To accomplish this goal, they need an extremely high level of proficiency in the language of the people among whom they will minister. They need to develop Bible lessons, preach the gospel, teach and counsel new believers, train church leaders and translate the Bible. Not only that, but before they teach, they need to understand the beliefs, values and worldview of their audience.
“Culture and Language Acquisition (CLA) is the program Ethnos consultants and coaches teach missionaries in order to gain that necessary level of fluency and cultural understanding. Because most Ethnos missionaries need to learn an unknown language, CLA is a completely do-it-yourself task. To reach that goal in an unknown language takes an average of three years of patient effort, following the four stages of CLA from simple words and phrases to sentences to simple stories to extended discourse with the ability to communicate clearly to an audience and tell stories and preach in a way which has powerful impact. All this takes place while learning the culture and beliefs that are holding the minds of the people group hostage and keeping them blinded to the truth.
“Ethnos’ most experienced culture and language learning coaches are currently revising and updating the CLA program to make it even more helpful to missionaries. And they are developing a mobile app for cell phones and other devices that will sync with the missionary’s computer which will facilitate the complicated tasks of CLA: taking photos and video, recording audio, and documenting speech patterns and behaviour. This will help missionaries plan and schedule their CLA activities, including review, and make it easier to sort through several years’ worth of information to search for insights to the people group’s beliefs and values.
“Another positive aspect of this new CLA program and the software application is the ability to have it translated into many different languages. This will allow Global Partners (such as Vision Intégrale in West Africa or Misión Pro-Indígena in Mexico) to use this very handy and timesaving tool in many places.”