Overcoming the Language Barrier

In Gen 11 men tried to make a name for themselves (v 4) to assert independence from God, so God confused their language such that they will not understand each other (v 7). Ever since that time language had become the biggest barriers to communication, and subsequently to sharing the gospel. For missionaries then, unless you are a native speaker, learning that language becomes a prerequisite to serving that people group and community.

Obviously, you need workers in all language groups so that the people can hear. But if you go by the size of the market, the top three languages spoken by the most people are:

Language by population

The language learned by the highest number of people in the world is English, spoken by 21.4% of the world’s 7 billion population, despite the fact that the number with English as mother tongue is not that high. This is because many learned it as their second language or a foreign language for business use. The second most common language is Chinese, understandably because China has the highest population of all the countries in the world, at 18.6%. The third is Spanish, spoken by Latin Americans as well as Spaniards. So, unless the Lord called you to serve a particular people group, these are the three languages to learn for sharing the gospel.

TESOL:

What is TEFL?

Since we learned English as a second language while growing up in Hong Kong, we are studying to get certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). I believe this certificate probably opens more doors today than any other type of training. For Mandarin, as Chinese we have no excuse for not learning, especially when so many foreign missionaries have leaned it to reach our people. My wife, who is more gifted in language than I am, is learning beginner Spanish too. For me, I spent a fair amount of time in NT Greek but have very little to show for it. So I’m content to take it a step at a time and not bite more than I can chew. Maybe the Lord will come back soon and the language barrier will be broken down so we don’t need to spend so much time trying to communicate. Wouldn’t that be grand!

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Comments

  • The Dude  On November 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Those are my top three languages to learn, 4th would be Brazilian Portuguese.

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