Language and Culture Survey of Missionaries by Jarren Longoria

Language and Culture Survey of Missionaries by Jarren Longoria

One of the assignments of my internship with Team Arequipa this summer was to do a project related to missions in an area of my own interest. I chose to survey missionaries from around the world with some questions related to language acquisition. My objective was to understand how missionaries learn new languages and the specific ways in which ministry goals and cultural adaptation are contingent upon language acquisition. I sent out my ten-question survey through SurveyMonkey to as many missionary contacts that I and my mentors for this project could think of. A mix of 26 short-term and long-term missionaries from 11 different countries and territories shared their cross-cultural experiences as it related to language learning as well as cultural/ministerial goals. I explain some of my most interesting findings in this article.



CUDA has had a language school for a while now, but a little over a month ago added a homestay option. What the homestay option offers is full language and culture immersion by living with a Peruvian family. This is a great option for extra language learning beyond what happens in the classroom and gives the opportunity to use Spanish in a real context, every day. 
Jeremy and I moved to Peru over a month ago knowing we would be spending our first several months in language school full time, which is four hours a day, one-on-one with a Peruvian language instructor. However, we also knew that we wanted to do a homestay with a Peruvian family to reinforce what we had learned that day and to make us have to use Spanish outside of class. So, when CUDA started offering the homestay option we signed up right away.

Expanding Language

As I near the end of my language school experience, I am thankful that we have been able to support CUDA during this process. But I am most grateful for the friendships I have formed as CUDA has done an amazing job with choosing their language teachers. Each of us (Morgans included) have formed friendships with the teachers throughout the past 7-8 months, relationships we will continue to develop throughout our time here. 
As mentioned earlier, big changes have come to CUDA with the termination of the cafe. Another development is that Passport Language School is introducing home stays. Home stays are available for those who wish to speed up their language learning by taking classes that are then applied practically by living with Peruvian families. Total immersion is the best way to learn a new language, and CUDA will now be able to offer an even fuller experience toward that end. Perhaps the most exciting part is that home stays will commence with the arrival of the two remaining team couples arriving by the beginning of October!

The Apprentice: Building Relationships

I can hardly believe that I have been in Arequipa for over two months, the time has simply flown by. This past month I have been praying for guidance, for the people of Arequipa and specific individuals the team has a relationship with, and I have come to know and love. I am excited about Alfredo’s decision, and I remember the excitement in his eyes when he told me about his decision one day in language class. I am exited to see what God has in store for Alfredo, and pray that his wife, Judith will be influenced by the changes she sees in him.

Missionary Mom: Like a Child

It has been a humbling experience to live in this culture and not exactly be able to communicate how I would like. I am a people-person. I love to talk to people. But with my poor language skills (learning Spanish has not been my gift), I know that I sound like a child to so many. This has made me feel inadequate in so many ways. There have been many times that I question if I am really cut out for this role, but God has a way of using us despite our inadequacies.

Starting from Scratch

Some of you may know that I was the rookie linguist on the team when we arrived three months ago. (Yes, really, we have been here that long.) I could almost order my own meals and knew that I should say “Mucho gusto” (basically “Nice to meet you”) when I met someone. Other than that, I was pretty much at a 1- year-old’s level, knowing a few numbers, colors, concepts, but really unable to do much with it. 

What's Next?

Well, I've finished with Spanish language school. It's a strange feeling being "done." I haven't really studied Spanish since I finished my minor in undergrad., so I've been looking forward to brushing up for a long time. It's come and gone, and I can hardly believe it. With three weeks of budgeted schooling left, I decided that I would be better off to study at home what I'd learned and let the rest of the field workers have an extra week of class. So my week off has been one spent at home reviewing and trying to establish a self-disciplined schedule. 

Back to School

The thought of starting back to school four years after college graduation was a bit daunting to me. Studying had become a foreign concept, and since I was the Spanish rookie on the team, the task of learning an entire language loomed large in front of me. It didn’t help that the thought of sitting face-to-face with a Peruvian for four hours each day, hoping I could keep up enough to learn a few things, seemed overwhelming. 

But then we began classes, and I realized that the time goes very quickly.

The Language School Groove

It’s Friday night after our second long week of language school. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for. When we investigated language schools over a year ago, Casa de Avila was hands-down the best option in town. That, however, was far from a guarantee of excellence. One of the things I have anticipated most during the last years is language and culture training. There is something so rewarding about the look on a Peruvian’s face when you can make a word play in Spanish, order a traditional plate at a local dive, or haggle in the market without missing a beat.