What Every Missionary Needs to Know About Language Acquisition: Jim Ruff Explains

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In this insightful episode, we explore the complex and often challenging journey of language learning for missionaries. Our guest, Jim Ruff, delves into a series of probing questions that shed light on common pitfalls, strategic decisions, and the spiritual dimensions of acquiring new languages in the mission field.

Key questions include:

  • What is the most significant mistake missionaries make while attempting to master a new language?
  • In the context of global homogenization and the reliance on lingua francas, is there still a necessity to learn local dialects?
  • How does learning grammar and languages impact one’s ability to interpret Scripture, preach effectively, and enhance overall communication skills?
  • Should non-missionaries consider embarking on the journey of learning a foreign language, and if so, why realistically?
  • How can God use missionaries despite their fears of imperfection in language skills and the occasional missteps in communication?

Join us as we navigate the intricacies of language acquisition in missionary work, offering practical advice, theological reflections, and motivational insights for both current and aspiring missionaries. Whether you’re in the field, considering missions, or simply curious about the role of language in ministry, this episode promises to enrich your understanding and inspire your journey.

Jim Ruff, D.Min., is a retired missionary to Japan (20 years) and a trainer and associate director of training for ABWE for over 14 years.  With his wife, he served for a term in church planting in the Chicago area. He is the author of one of the ABWE Bible courses and serves as a proctor for missionaries taking the Methods of Bible Study course. He has been an adjunct professor at Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit University, for 7 years.  He and his wife, Jan, have 3 married children and 12 grandchildren. Hear more from Jim on his website.

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