Is knowing the language important?

Even though English is one of the working languages in many of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 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, or Berber considered the primary language in some MENA countries.  

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?  In a limited way.

The mother tongue is always more than words.  It also holds the idioms, thinking patterns, worldview, and temperament of the people.  Tentmakers do not need to be fluent in a language in order to communicate to the heart, but language learning is considered an important 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 sites and apps are also helpful.  Remember 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.