Why I’m glad I’m not yet fluent in Swahili

February 28, 2013 in Life, Mark, Africa, Culture, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Language learning can be hard work, especially for us Brits who hardly uttered a single word from any language other than English until age 11, (and even then only for 3 hours a week in the school classroom.) I remember looking forward to beginning to learn German as I started secondary school, and thinking that all I had to do was to memorise the German word for each English word and I’d be fluent – simple, right?! I’m glad to say my understanding of linguistics has progressed a little in the last 20 years…

Now, living in western Tanzania I find myself speaking Swahili for much of the day, alongside English, with a few greetings in some of the local languages around here thrown in. As foreigners living in Tanzania it can be tempting to see language learning as a necessary step before we can get on with our real work, a period of time we need to set aside to get up to speed with the language so we can start what we really came here to do.

But I think language learning is so much more than that. Learning the language (and culture) of another person is essentially learning to understand the world from their point of view, and as such is a never-ending journey. Read the rest of this entry →

Language Matters

February 28, 2012 in Life, Prayer, Wycliffe, Mark, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Our time at Swahili language school in Iringa is continuing well, and we are starting to look ahead to our next move west in a week or so! We had originally planned to stay in Iringa for four weeks, but have extended that by one more week so as to give Laura as much time to continue with classroom learning as possible.

Laura is really enjoying the classes and is making excellent progress, having covered the majority of Swahili grammar and learned a lot of vocabulary too. She is able to converse more and more each day, and is encouraged by how much progress she has made in just three weeks here. You can even see her speaking Swahili for yourself… Read the rest of this entry →

Tumefika! We have arrived in Tanzania…

January 23, 2012 in Life, Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Front, Tanzania

After five years of anticipation and preparation, on the morning of January 13th we finally touched down at Dar es Salaam International Airport to begin the next stage of our work supporting Bible translation. We are happy to have safely arrived in Tanzania where we are working with SIL International, an organisation devoted to serving minority language communities as they write down their languages and translate the Bible and other materials. Read the rest of this entry →

Why not teach everyone English?

March 24, 2010 in Wycliffe, Mark

When people think about the huge number of language communities in the world who don’t have access to the Bible, one of the first questions of many mother-tongue English speakers is “Why not just teach everyone English?”

There are many answers to this question – practical, technical, historical… but the main reason has to be that it just wouldn’t fit in with the God we see in the Bible and the way he works. God always reaches out to his people in a way that they can understand and relate to – he makes the first move.

Here’s Wycliffe UK Director Eddie Arthur giving his answer to the question of why we shouldn’t teach everyone English (or Chinese, Arabic, Spanish or Swahili for that matter…)