In junior high and high school I studied Latin and French. Learning Latin was great because it really helped me with vocabulary. The French really didn’t stick with me. Actually, I really didn’t stick with it. I took French for two years and I can remember part of one song. That’s it.
The language I had the most exposure to as I was growing up was Hungarian. I caught a few things here and there and even went to a Hungarian school in Pennsylvania one summer. As a family we would say “Come Lord Jesus be our guest…” in Hungarian. I also learned several children’s songs. Today I actually take Hungarian lessons with two of our kids and it has been quite an effort for me. I think they are picking it up more quickly than I am. Once we realized we had relatives who only spoke Hungarian, it became a bigger motivator for us to learn. There was a focus.
Language learning builds new pathways in your brain. It enriches your view of the world if you include cultural studies about the country and people group associated with the language you study. It can also enhance your geography skills. It could open the door for mission work in the US with immigrants from that country or short/long term mission work in that other country.
Do you know someone endeavoring to learn a language right now? Consider praying for their language acquisition skills. If you know someone in language school for mission work, pray for them to be able to pick up the language quickly. If you know of international students in the US learning English, pray for them as well. Many families come to the US with few English skills and their children bridge the gap by learning English quickly in school. The child who serves to interpret for his parents is in a unique situation. While it is easy to criticize these parents for not learning to read, write, and speak English fluently, remember that language learning as we get older is not easy. And certainly learning English is not easy. If you find you have a great annoyance towards immigrants not learning English while they live here, consider praying for their language skills and then consider volunteering with a church or local organization with their ESL (English as a Second Language) program. Getting involved in the process will enhance your understanding and grow your compassion and put your skills to good use.
Speaking from experience, focusing on HSL (Hungarian as a Second Language) is not an easy task. I had the privilege of hearing the rhythm of Hungarian in my brain since the day I was born and while pronunciation is easier for me than maybe for someone else who has never heard the sounds, it still is a very difficult language for me to learn. Thankfully God placed several fluent Hungarian speakers in my life right here in Evansville, Indiana! Imagine that! My goal is to a least become casually conversant. If you don’t know anyone else to pray for concerning language learning then I invite you to pray for me!