Question about Daily Life Overseas for missionaries:
"How long does it take to learn a language?"
After two years of total immersion, we began to feel a certain comfort level in our new language. However, it was only in our fifth year of total immersion that we felt we had the ability to express ourselves precisely and with a low level of distracting foreign accent.
All that said, you should plan on at least a year of intensive language study to get to a decent conversational level. And, as I tell our new missionaries, "intense" does not mean three hours a week with a tutor and a textbook or a few hours on Rosetta Stone! Intense usually means eight more more hours a day, immersed in the language, approaching it from different angles.
The learning system is also important. Good methods can be learned from places like MTI. The Growing Participator Approach developed by Greg Thomson is gaining widespread usage as a good system that seems to work in various contexts.
But even once conversational, you don't want to stop. A missionary should continue intentional language learning throughout his or her service. Move into literature, poetry, etc. The deeper you go, the more you'll understand the culture.
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