Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

How to Teach Yourself a Language in No Time

by Melissa Chang |

Language Acquisition

earworms language learning
Image courtesy of Earworms Learning

When most of us think of learning a new language, we picture 4 years of high school Spanish or College French that never really seemed to stick despite hours and hours in class.  Well, there’s good news.  You can actually teach yourself a language! That’s right, not only is it quick and effective, but it can also be a lot of fun with these cool new tools.

1-Learn in your car CDs

drive time frenchThese are CDs that you just pop in your car and listen to on your way to and from work, school or shopping. No reading or studying is necessary. You just listen and repeat. The whole thing is done orally. These CDS are created to teach you the simple essentials in as short of time as possible. They choose phrases and words they think a traveler will most need and focuse on those.  Vocabulary usually focuses on getting around, emergencies, restaurants, etc… Besides the speed and effiiency of this method, you also learn fairly good pronunciation because you are learning based only on listening and repeating. Most of these programs are around $20.


When I went to Cameroon recently, I decided to use one of these CDs to learn a bit of French. he one I used was called Drive Time French. There were 3 hours of instruction on the CDs, and I began listening to them 3 months before my trip. I didn’t even really know if it stuck or not, but then found myself in Cameroon at a hospital where no one spoke English. The essential phrases kicked in and I actually ended up being the interpreter for the patient. This method is best for learning correct pronunciation, because there is nothing to distract you for pure listening. Another great company that creates these in a wide variety of languages including Arabic and Hindi is Pimsleur.


earwormsThese CDs are fantastic. Some of them just use repetition to help you learn, but others even use songs and music to help the vocabulary stick in your memory. One of these you should check out is Earworms. As they teach you the vocabulary they do it rythmically to catchy tunes. Click this link to check out a demo. This method is great unless you are terrible at song lyrics. I love music, but since I am the master of misheard lyrics, I think this method would be enjoyable for me, but not effective. My favorite method can be found below.

Visual Imagery

instant recallMy favorite method of all is one called Instant Recall. This method relies on your visual imagery. In Chinese, the word for pain is ‘tong.” Picture that you have a pain in your tongue. They give you a visual hook like this for every word. It is so fun! But not only do they give you mental picture, but they give you these quizzes after each section that are also fun and very effective at searing the vocabulary into your brain. They also give grammar points and let you practice translating and creating sentences. The only downfall is that it isn’t so good for remembering exact pronunciation since you are thinking about the hook word. Note:This one is made for your mp3 player or computer, even though it is audio only.

talk now hindi2-Video Game Language Learning Software

If you want to use both audio and actual pictures, along with games and quizzes, a video game type software might be best for you. Eurotalk has a great beginner program called Talk Now, that lets you play games and earn points with sounds and pictures to allow you to learn and have fun at the same time. Another fantastic thing about this exact program is that it has almost any language you can think of from Albanian to Zulu. You can get beginner software programs like this one for only $40.


1-Consider learning the national language instead of the individual family or tribal language, so that you can communicate in a wider area. However, you should still take the time to learn polite greetings in each family or tribal language that you will be visiting. Of course, if you are going to be living in a specific language area, it might be best to learn that specific language, no matter how narrowly it is used.

2-Go to the bookstore and see what they have there. Look at it all and pick something that looks fun and simple.

3-If you want to learn quickly and easily, don’t worry about learning to read or write the language. Just pick and audio and verbal based program. You want to be able to get around and talk to people. Learning to read a language like Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Arabic etc… will be a lot more difficult and time consuming.

4-Keep it short and cheap. You can’t master an entire language in a short time. Just go for a basic program to get you through. It will be easier to remember and a great way to get you started and build your confidence. You shouldn’t spend more than $40 for software of $20 for CDs. You don’t need to break the bank to get started.

 5-Supplement your learning with cartoons and videos. Once you have your CD and want to do more, search YouTube for kids cartoons and songs in your new language. You can also find kid’s language coloring and sticker books for additional learning and fun.

6-Just have fun. You won’t remember it all, but you never know what might come to mind right when you need it. Just give it a try and see what sticks. Learning a language is half the fun of going:)

Language Need Not Be a Barrier

by Beverly Cooper |

Cultural Sensitivity, Language Acquisition

Sign languageOkay, we can probably all agree that trying to learn as much of a language as possible before visiting another country is the best case scenario. Not only will it help you get around, but it shows your hosts that you care about them and took the time to try to learn language on their terms. Unfortunately, there are some situations where learning a language beforehand is just not possible. For example, I knew one missionary who had prepared long and hard for her life in Chad. One week after her arrival, civil unrest caused her to be evacuated to Cameroon.

What if you have to leave suddenly and don’t have time to learn the language, such as in a disaster response situation? What if you are on a trip that requires you to travel to several different areas? You might be able to learn a few simple greetings in each language, but more in depth language learning might not be possible for every country you are visiting. Sometimes you might spend years learning the language but are faced with situations where you just aren’t able to communicate at the level the conversation requires.

In whatever language situation you do happen to find yourself, just don’t panic. Communication issues are totally normal when visiting or even living in any new country. There are all sorts of ways to communicate with others besides language. Below are some suggestions:

Say it without words

Most of us have played charades at some time in our lives. Use hands, arms, legs, facial expressions, and anything else you can think of to get your point across. There is a little drama king or queen in all of us.

Draw a picture

All of us are not artists, but we can draw something simple to get our point across. If we can’t draw, we can show. Once on a trip to Mexico, we had brought shoes to an orphanage. The house mother was desperately trying to tell me in Spanish of a problem with a pair of the shoes. I just wasn’t getting it until she actually drew me a picture. Then, there it was, obvious on paper— two right shoes. The moral to that story is to check gifts for problems before you haul them across the country. But that is another story.

Ask for help

If there are other people around, ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask kids. Many kids are taught other languages in school. They also pick language up from television. I have depended on kids more than once to translate simple things for me.

Speak and write the words

If the languages are from the same root language, such as Latin, some words could be similar or even the same. They may sound a little different, because of a person’s accent, but still mean the same thing. If possible, write the word out. The spelling may offer a clue. Of course, if you are in somewhere far from Latin roots, this is not going to work at all for you:)

Carry a pocket dictionary

This is a great tool to have on hand. If there is something you really need to say, but can’t, look it up in your dictionary and show your non-English speaking friend the word in their language. I once was at a dinner with some friends in East Asia. They were desperately trying to tell me what it was that I was eating, but I just couldn’t understand them. They had their own pocket dictionary on hand and looked up the word to let me know that my delicious meal was made from pig ear.

Be patient

Yes, all this can be frustrating and downright tiring, but patience is the key. Hopefully, the above points will help when you are in situations where verbal communication is limited. Be patient, relax, and have fun with it. Communicating with those from other languages can also be extremely rewarding.

Next week: How to teach yourself a new language

From Prisoner to Missionary: Jacob DeShazer

by Melissa Chang |

Famous Missionaries, Japan, Uncategorized

Jacob DeShazerIt was December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Peal Harbor. Jacob DeShazer was a 29 year old seargent in the US army. When he heard about the raid, he made it his goal to pay back the Japanese. He volunteered to join a special group that would attack Tokyo and turned the tide of the Pacific war. Unfortunately, after his successful mission, he and his team had to ditch their planes, parachuting into enemy territory. They were captured.

For the next three years, he paid a heavy price for his bravery as the Japanese beat, tortured and starved him as a “war criminal.” He was held in a series of P.O.W. camps both in Japan and China for 40 months — 34 of them in solitary confinement. He was severely beaten and malnourished while three of the crew were executed by a firing squad, and another died of slow starvation.

Filled with hatred and rage towards all Japanese, something seemingly impossible happened. DeShazer vowed to spend his life as a missionary, telling the Japanese of Christ’s love. So, what changed him? He asked for a Bible towards the end of his imprisonment and had a radical conversion experience that changed his life forever.

Here are some excerpts from a tract that DeShazer wrote and had distributed around Japan about his experience.

by Jacob DeShazer (1950)

“I was a prisoner of Japan for forty long months, thirty-four of them in solitary confinement

When I flew as a member of General Jimmy Doolittle’s squadron on the first raid over Japan on April 18th, 1942, my heart was filled with bitter hatred for the people of that nation. When our plane ran out of gas, and the members of the crew of my plane had to parachute down into Japanese-held territory in China and were captured by the enemy, the bitterness of my heart against my captors seemed more than I could bear.

Taken to Tokyo with the survivors of another of our planes, we were imprisoned and beaten, half-starved, and denied by solitary confinement even the comfort of association with one another, these terrible tortures taking place at Tokyo, Shanghai, Nanking and Peiping. Three of my buddies, Dean Hallmark, Fill Farrow and Harold Spatz, were executed by a firing squad about six months after our capture, and fourteen months later another of them, Bob Meder [a strong Christian], died of slow starvation. My hatred for the Japanese people nearly drove me crazy.

It was soon after Meder’s death that I began to ponder the cause of such hatred between members of the human race. I wondered what it was that made the Japanese hate the Americans, and what made me hate the Japanese. my thoughts turned toward what I had heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love, and I was gripped with a strange longing to examine the Christian’s Bible to see if I could find the secret. I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last, in the month of May, 1944, a guard brought the Book, but told me I could have it for only three weeks.

I eagerly began to read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart. …

How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food. But suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes, and that when I looked at the Japanese officers and guards who had starved and beaten me and my companions so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity. I realized that these Japanese did not know anything about my Saviour and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel. I read in my Bible that while those who crucified Jesus on the cross had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to the cross, He tenderly prayed in His moment of excruciating suffering, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And now from the depths of my heart, I too prayed for God to forgive my torturers, and I determined by the aid of Christ to do my best to acquaint the Japanese people with the message of salvation that they might become as other believing Christians. …

At last freedom came. On August 20th, 1945, American parachutists dropped onto the prison grounds and released us from our cells. We were flown back to the United States and placed in hospitals where we slowly regained our physical strength.

I have completed my training in a Christian College, God having clearly commanded me: “Go, teach the Japanese people the way of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ,” and am now in Japan as a missionary, with the one single purpose to lead me – to make Christ known.

I am sending this testimony to people everywhere, with the earnest prayer that a great host of people may confess Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.”

In one of the most inspiring stories and miraculous stories to come out of this story, Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who bombed Pearl Harbor, and DeShazer, the Doolittle Raider who bombed Tokyo, became close friends. Fuchida became a Christian in 1950 after reading the DeShazer’s testimony above – and, like DeShazer, he spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Asia

Here is a video interview with Jacob DeShazer from CBN

I was a Prisoner of Japan is DeShazer’s story as told to Don R. Falkenberg of The Bible Meditation League (BML), 1950.

Famous Missionary: Robert Jermain Thomas

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries, Korea

 Man on Fire

Photo by Focal Intent

I was looking up famous missionaries yesterday and ran across someone I had never heard of before: Robert Jermain Thomas. After reading his biography, I was amazed. Why haven’t I heard of this man before?  His story is extremely powerful.

Why haven’t I heard of this man before?

Robert Jermain Thomas went to China in the 1800’s to be a missionary with his wife. However, Robert’s most famous story actually occurs in Korea. After a 5 month boat trip to get to China, he lost his young wife who died shortly after arrival. Robert stayed in China, but resigned from his missionary post. About a year later, he met 2 Korean Catholics who would change his destiny forever.

north korean billboardAt that time, all of Korea was called the Hermit Kingdom. It was known for its hostility to outsiders, similar to North Korea today, but possibly even more extreme.  There had been several priests in Korea since 1785, and those few priests were meeting in small house type churches with thousands of believers who had no Bibles or scriptures. The authorities were very hostile to Christianity and massacred almost 10,000 at one point around the same time Robert was in China.

Robert was very moved about the plight of the Koreans and begin making secret trips on trading ships to distribute Bibles under heavy disguise and serious threat of death if caught. His last trip was in 1866 on an American merchant trading ship as a translator. Upon entering Pyongyang, the current capital of North Korea, a battle ensued. The Koreans did not want the foreign traders there, and the captain of the American ship reportedly started shooting. This caused the Koreans to retaliate. During the battle the ship got stuck on a sand bar and the Koreans caught the ship on fire. Those who escaped and swam to shore were quickly killed by the soldiers on the banks.

On the deck of the burning ship, Robert flung open his cases of Bibles and began flinging them to the villagers on the shore watching and to the soldiers themselves shouting “Jesus!”  Finally, Robert himself caught on fire, still throwing the Bibles and jumped into the river. As he swam to shore he begged the awaiting soldier to take a Bible from him. Witnesses say the soldier was reluctant to kill him, but did his duty. Robert was only 27.

small handsMeanwhile, the scene of this passionate man so caring about the Bibles touched those on the shores who witnessed it. Some felt bad about destroying the Bibles he had so passionately tried to give away and took them home, using them as wallpaper.  Eventually, out of curiosity, they started reading the pages.

About 5o years later a huge revival broke out in Pyongyang. in 1904 10,000 became Christian. In 1906, 30,000…In 1907, 50,000 more. Finally, in 1931 a memorial church was built on the spot to honor Robert Jermain Thomas, who had died so passionately trying to give away Bibles with his last breath.

The soldier who had killed Robert, did end up taking the Bible. Choon Kwon Park later played an important role in establishment of the Pyongany Church. Today, many Koreans still visit the home of Robert Jermain Thomas in Wales to pay their respects and to remember.

To read more articles on Robert Jermain Thomas you can click here or here.

To purchase an autobiography of Robert’s life, you can visit Emmaus Road to find a copy of Stella Price’s book, Chosen for Choson.

Billboard photo by Mark Scott Johnson
Begging photo by Photos8.com

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