These ideas came out of years of practice and were compiled and passed around by me and several friends:
Tell a story from a picture book (one picture at a time...in chunks but not the whole story...using the pictures to guide)
Learn/memorize/be able to re-tell the evangelical sermons of Acts (Stephen's to the crowd (Acts 7), Peter's to Cornelius' household (Acts 10:34-48), Paul's to the people of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-48), Paul's to the Athenians (Acts 17:22-34).
Learn to share your testimony and the testimony of other local believers. Then ask the listener if they have a similar story in their life.
Ask national believer friends which stories from Scripture mean the most to them and why, then memorize them and use them.
Talk about anything and everything (headlines from newspapers and magazines, TV, current events, what is important to locals lives).
Watch TV, movies or listen to the radio and other programs in the local language. This allows you to understand and mimic patterns of communication and social interaction.
Stay Up On The News. Daily, international, national, local. From their perspective. Listen and read for UNDERSTANDING. Find at least one piece that we can lodge in our heads, that is a hot-topic where we live, that we can include in conversation. It is exhilarating when we can say, "Hey, that reminds me, you know I read this article in your paper today... Did you know that...?" and then we can ask their thoughts on the topic. What this says is, "I'm reading YOUR newspapers" (just like they do) and "Your opinion on the topic is important to me.” (NOTE: When we communicate at this level we are trying to SAY things to our friends even though it usually means we aren't using all the right WORDS. We may stumble. But we are attempting to have them HEAR and UNDERSTAND what we are trying to say. This is hugely impacting!)
Prepare by reading more newspapers and books about daily life. Write down summaries, try to stay current which will encourage you to talk more and more about different things with people with whom, in the past, you would probably not have engaged at this level.
Count. Start to be more seriously aware of how many new words you are incorporating into the language you use. Note: You may be familiar with lots of words, thousands in fact. But you may not use them. Use a notebook or app to keep track of new words that you read and hear in various contexts. The pace of going from general familiarity to actually using new words will increase as a result of this conscious tracking and reviewing.
Notebook. Keep it always with you in every conversation with everything you read. New words go here first, in context, questions, thoughts. People may see you jotting things down and that can actually serve as a springboard for deeper conversation. This notebook is often your first step in counting your new words as you input them into your memo pad. This is real-time "jottings" of events, people, new words and phrases, inferences, and questions.
Share with locals in the language what God is teaching you in your devotions.
You can start taking your daily journal jottings and string them together into a narrative of your week, writing it out in the language (or can do this on audio). This allows you to think through what you have done in the language, intercede, meditate on why, then get feedback from a local/tutor etc. Look for ‘red flag indicators’ of ‘I don’t know what in the world is going on here.” Jot them down, then ask a local later.
Pray for local friends, for wisdom to learn and share with God's grace and power, for humility and a servant-heart.
Do your devotions in the local language or at least in both English and the local language.
Read/listen to current events. Summarize them in your own words along with a few questions about them. Discuss them daily with lots of people, including believers.
Read/listen to fables, stories, jokes from the culture. Learn the punch lines.
Observe how people ask questions and in what setting. Ask more questions.
Notice things. Everything! A group of women on the street going to the mosque, men playing backgammon. Listen for words and phrases you don't know, things you may not know how to talk about.
Think of the many things happening around you as stories, the stories of people's lives. What is going on in our lives and the lives of those around us. Use this to tell other’s stories in the language. Then, get a friend to listen to you tell these stories and help you clean them up without making it overly difficult, i.e., keeping it natural for you to say it in your own words.
Finding Points of Impact. There's so much that we say that just goes right by people. And things they say which go right by us! We all experience this frustration. But if we look with attention we may be able to find some points of impact: What makes them sit up and raise their voices at each other? What makes them laugh? Cry? What do they like to talk about? Sports? Politics? What have we said before that makes them respond with interest? Why? How can we find and respond to these points of impact?
Talk to Yourself in the Language. One of our co-workers observed, "A lot of my mistakes are not knowledge problems. As soon as the sentence comes out of my mouth, I know it is wrong. But once it is out, it is out!" For these kind of mistakes, learning more grammar and language rules will not help. The user just needs more practice and production time. Talking about different subjects out loud, by yourself, can be a very helpful technique in practicing and producing without wearing out a listener. You are able to correct, restate, and polish paragraphs, and get them ready to try them out with native speakers later in the day. Another way to tweak this technique is to tape yourself talking out loud, and then listen to yourself. One caution, if you are seen talking to yourself by family and friends, they may become worried about your sanity!! It also allows you to practice and produce without getting so nervous. You can be more confident when you speak with people if you've done some mental preparation and practiced beforehand. Other variations are: *force yourself to talk silently in longer sentences and paragraphs on more subjects when you are alone *practice more simultaneous translation when you are listening to someone speak English. Try to think in the language and not English more while reading or listening to recordings. *so if you are thinking about something, anything, try to think about it in sentences and paragraphs in the language and talk to yourself about it, self-correcting as you go. *if you’re listening to someone speak English in conversation or giving a speech do you best to silently translate into the language what they are saying.
Pray in the language. Begin by using prayers from the Bible in your own prayers as a meditative guide. One of the believers in a fellowship here has memorized about thirty psalms already. For example, as you memorize Ps23 in the language you can find it helpful for both meditating/memorizing scripture as well as for interceding..."The Lord is my shepherd I shall lack nothing...Lord, please be the shepherd for Mustafa and Miriam. May they lack nothing. Please give them all they need." It makes your prayer time by yourself and in small groups more meaningful. This can help you pray in a big group by helping you not to "choke" if you are already in the habit of praying scripture.
Reading. For advanced learners, reading is essential for communicating (both understanding and speaking) at a paragraph level using compound sentences and complex topics. Have you ever felt, "I understood the topic at first but they've lost me now..." and you don't know what to say or do? Read stories, biographies, historical fiction, trying to find things that your friends read and find interesting. The more you read, the more you find you can extensively follow and interact with what people are saying.
Learn worship songs in the local language. This will allow you to increase your spiritual vocabulary as well as helps in praying.