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The challenge of language learning

On a recent trip to South India, I watched my host communicate effortlessly using numerous Indian languages. When I asked him how many languages he knew, he pulled out a Rupee bank note and pointed out the 15 languages that are listed there. He was fluent in a number of them and could get by in most all the rest (There are 24 official languages in India with over 400 other spoken tongues). After one interchange, my host pointed out how helpful it has been to his ministry to be able travel the breadth of the vast Indian continent and communicate intelligently with most everyone he meets.

In Thailand there are 74 languages spoken, but fortunately the main trade language is Central Thai which all OMF church planters need to study. Interesting enough, Ethnologue states that 67% of Thai speakers speak it as a second language. The vast majority of those 67% are fluent in Thai, an elusive goal for many of us ex-pats who often come out of monolingual environments. Do pray that missionaries here will have the necessary listening, memory, pronunciation and reading skills to make the gospel clear to the Thai and other people groups living here.

Larry Dinkins

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