We have been in Argentina for three months now. In three months we set up and are are in language school. So what is life like for a missionary in language school? My life is in Spanish. Everything that is done is done in Spanish. Language school only lasts a few hours but language learning continues throughout every day. I have been told that learning the rules of the language is important, but it is more important to get out and “practice” Spanish. If you think about it, our children did not learn English by being in a formal classroom setting learning the rules of when to say this and how to say it. They learned by being around us, by listening and trying to say a word here or there themselves. Before long our children were speaking fluently! The most important thing about language school is not just the rules, but the practice! How can we practice Spanish? Practicing Spanish is two-fold, you listen, and you speak. It is best to converse with someone because in doing so you are listening and speaking. So how are some ways we practice Spanish. In Argentina it is easy. We listen. Any message, announcement, prayer request or anything else in the church is how we can listen to Spanish. Listen to the talk radio. If someone is talking on the radio, it is in Spanish, so we listen. Watch the news. All of the news is in Spanish. What about talking, how do we practice speaking in Spanish. Again this is very simple, if you see a human, that human speaks Spanish! Talk with people. Talk with people you know and talk with people you don’t know. Talk about the weather, shoes, food, customs, holidays, the community and city, the country, talk about Jesus and the Bible. Talk about anything and everything you can possibly think about. At first it is very slow. It may be a “Hello, how are you?” sort of thing. In time you will be able to say more and more. I think you get the idea. Just talk to people. Ask them to correct you (I am finding people are very kind, they want to talk to me and many of them don’t mind correcting me).
Our days are filled with Spanish. Some times it is overwhelming. Some times we speak and understand much better than other times. We continue on and we are loving it! The next few weeks I will address what it is like to be a new missionary learning the language in Argentina.