Do you train your short term missions trip participants for cross-cultural ministry? You should, to help them understand the cultural difference they will encounter and how to deal with them. It is also key that they understand that their actions have the ability to either help or hinder the long term missionary efforts on the field they serve. Often the difference comes back to cultural preparedness. Here are some resources to help you lead a basic one-hour class on preparing for cross-cultural ministry.
If I speak with the tongue of a national, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt his home culture, is not proud of his national superiority,
Does not boast about the way we do it back home, does not seek his own ways, is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country, does not think evil about this culture;
Love bears all criticism about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences.
Love never fails: but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization it will lead to syncretism; where there is linguistics, it will change.
For we know only part of the culture and we minister to only part.
But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.
When I was in America I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American; but when I left America I put way American things.
Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly; but He will live in it intimately: now I speak with a strange accent, but he will speak to the heart.
And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
Things to learn
- How do I say hello?
- How do I say goodbye?
- How, what, and when do people eat?
- How to behave as a guest in someone’s house?
- How much space is personal space?
- How late is late?
- What is immodest?
- What clothing is appropriate?
- What are appropriate and inappropriate relationships toward the opposite sex?
- What are appropriate and inappropriate gestures?
- What are appropriate and inappropriate forms of physical contact?
- What are the roles of family members?
- What are the rites or special occasions during someone’s life?
- What are the defining parts of the history?
- What aspects of history or politics should not be discussed?
- Who are the majors heroes or figures who have shaped the nation?
- When are the holidays?
- What is the structure of the government?
- When are the elections?
- What is the relationship between the national and local government?
- What are the major political parties?
- What are the titles for those in authority?
- What is the legal process?
- How should I respond towards the police?
- What things would I need permission for?
- What rights do I have?
- What should I do if I am involved in a vehicle accident?
- What should I do if my house is broken into?
- What is the budget for an average family for one month?
- What are the main industries?
- What is the main source of news?
- What magazines are widely read?
- What are the major radio stations?
- What are the marriage customs?
- What are the burial customs?
- What are the religious customs?
- Where are the places of worship?
- What are the folk beliefs?
- How long can I stay in the country?
- What documents should I carry with me?
- What documents do I need to drive?
- What taxes, fee, or duties will I need to pay?
- What should I do in case of an accident or emergency?
- What laws relate to hiring workers?
- Register with the embassy
- Get a mobile phone
- Get an internet connection
- How can I change dollars to local currency?
- Is it recommended to use credit or debit cards?
- Where is an ATM machine?
- How will I receive my financial support?
- What expenses may be reimbursed and what is the procedure?
- Will I have a cash advance for work or medical treatment?
Get moved in
- Where will I live?
- Will I have house help, yard workers, or a guard?
- Are there any crime or safety issues related to my residence?
- How much are monthly utility costs?
- What should I do if there are housing or utility problems?
- Where should I shop?
- How much should I expect to pay for common goods? Should I bargain?
- Where is the hospital or clinic?
- Where is the pharmacy?
- What doctors do you recommend?
- Where is a safe place I can go if case of emergency?
So, you’ve found a language helper, a computer language learning program, and carved out significant time to learn the language. Now, where do you start? How do you move beyond the textbook, software, or classroom, and get involved in the main event, meaning conversation and everyday life? Here are some great resources from Orville Jenkins
Language Learning Activities
- Learning how to eat out
- Learning how to ride the bus
- Learning to shop
- Learning about the family
- Learning how to introduce yourself
- Learning how to interview others
- Learning common church phrases
- Observing a church service
- Learning to share your testimony
- Memorizing scripture
- Leading a devotion
- Visiting another location
Learning Activity Guides
Evaluating Language Learning
Have you ever wondered how to get your mouth to make the sound you are attempting to learn in a new language. The figures below show how you mouth and vocal tract produce sounds. The touch, lips, teeth, control the air pass through the mouth to produce certain sounds. The images below show the main parts of the mouth and where each vowel sound is produced. See this articleSee an audio IPA chart
This interactive diagram is from Phonetics: The Sounds of Spoken Language
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is standard method for expressing the range of sounds of that we use in the languages of the world. This is a useful tool for linguists and language learners as it is the way to write every possible sound. It often is helpful to see the “big picture” of all the sounds and how they relate to each other. It can also help you understand how to get your mouth to make the desired sound in your new language. If you learn the IPA, you will be able to write the proper pronunciation or every word in every language.
Learn more about the IPA:
- IPA website
- Wikipedia article
- Omniglot IPA webpage
- Download a PDF copy of the IPA
- Watch a video clip of a person saying each sound
- Click the images below to hear each sound