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Is a foreign language important to know?

 

Even though English is one of the working languages in many of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region and is used in some professions and international business, Arabic is the most widely spoken in most of the MENA countries, with Turkish, French, Farsi, and Berber the primary language of some MENA countries and, like Arabic, is considered the mother tongue.  While some may know English, it is not the common street language, the neighborhood business language, or the heart language.

Can a tentmaker function without learning the "mother tongue?"  Probably.  Can a tentmaker understand the culture, the thinking of the people, and communicate well enough to do business, develop relationships, and explain God's Word without knowing the local language?  Only in a limited way.

The local language is always more than just words.  It also holds the idioms, thinking patterns, worldview, and temperament of the people.  Effective tentmakers do not need to be fluent in a language in order to communicate to the heart, but language learning is considered an essential part of connecting with people and sharing in their world.

Countless language learning programs are available online or can be purchased as an app.  Translation programs, such as Google Translate, are also very helpful for functioning within a new language.  Remember, of course, that the written language might be very different than the common, spoken language.  For instance, classical Arabic is the official language of many of the countries in the Middle East.  However each country, and sometimes regions within a country, speak a localized version of Arabic, with distinctive vocabulary, pronunciation patterns, and even sentence structure.