Culture and Language Acquisition

Ethnos missionaries working with global partners around the world are committed to obeying the Great Commission by planting thriving churches among every people group. To accomplish this goal, they need a high level of proficiency in the language of the people among whom they minister. Before they begin Bible lessons, teaching and discipleship, they need to understand the beliefs, values and worldview of their audience. To avoid syncretism, the missionaries must be able to anticipate how their hearers might misunderstand the message. Only then can they proactively address each of those potential misunderstandings as they present God’s truth.

Because most cross-cultural missionaries need to learn an unwritten language, Culture and Language Acquisition (CLA) is a completely do-it-yourself task. To reach that goal in an unwritten 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 captivate an audience and tell stories and preach in a way that has powerful impact.

New Software and New Releases

A global team of our 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, facilitating 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. They just received an incremental mobile release from the app developers, and they hope to get an update of the desktop app by the time this is printed. Progress is encouraging as they keep adding features.

The new CLA program and the mobile app will now be a part of the new distance training for national church planters throughout Asia. These missionaries are working in countries that would be closed to foreign missionaries. They will receive training through online courses, including courses where we will train them to do CLA and to use the app to facilitate that.

— Bill Davis
International Language
and Linguistics Consultant
CLA Development Coordinator
Global Partners

The cost of this project is $417,000. The amount still needed is $237,510.

Help Reach the Goal