The missionary linguistics courses provide complete, well-rounded preparation for language training, taught by faculty with experience in linguistics, Bible and missions work.
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The course offerings are flexible to meet your needs. You can take 1, 2 or 3 sessions. In each session, chapel is daily 9:40–10:10 a.m.
First session — 2 weeks, late May
In the first session you will learn practical ways of going about the learning of languages—skills and techniques that will help you make the most of language school or learn without language school if you need to. Because different people learn somewhat differently, you will explore a number of approaches that successful language learners have used.
8–9:30 a.m. & 10:20 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
Second session — 4 weeks, June
The second session includes the information about languages that will give you a firm foundation for language learning. As you learn to discriminate and pronounce the kinds of sounds used in languages around the world (including tones), your aptitude for hearing and mastering sound distinctions will increase.
Similarly, as you learn about various grammatical systems, you will develop greater aptitude in the area of grammar and semantics.
Third session — 2 weeks, early July
The third session Field Methods course is the capstone, giving you an opportunity to put into use what you learned in the first 2 sessions. Under the guidance of the instructor, you and your classmates will work with a native-speaker language helper to begin to learn a new language. You will also apply your analytical skills to figure out most of the sound system and at least the basics of the grammatical system of the language—all in just 2 weeks.
8–9:30 a.m. & 10:20 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
Why take BJU’s missionary linguistics courses?
Even if some of the people you will work among speak some English, you need to learn the language they really know, the one they think in. The Great Commission includes “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”—and that requires clear communication.
Thorough phonetics training will improve your “ear” for foreign sounds and your ability to pronounce them yourself. An understanding of how to learn another language will help you get more out of language school, and even enable you to learn on your own if you need to.
Study of phonology and grammatical systems will enable you to discover the regularities of how sounds and grammar work in a new language. Learning about semantics will help you be more aware of meaning and how it is expressed.
Practice in field methods will give you confidence in what you have learned—confidence that you really can pronounce a new language, apply the practical methods for learning it and find out for yourself how its grammar works.
BJU’s missionary linguistics courses are designed for you, the Bible-believer who wants thorough preparation for language learning.
You need training in three important major areas: methods of language learning, phonetics and an understanding of language structure.
In the missionary linguistics courses you will learn all three of these, and you will put all three into practice in the field methods class. These 8 weeks of essential preparation can save you many months of frustration later, and they will surely make a lifelong difference in how well you communicate on the field.
While all prospective language learners would benefit most from the full eight weeks, shorter options of 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 6 weeks are also available.
Those who will have the advantage of a first-class language school and only an easier language to learn might choose to attend one or both of the first 2 sessions. (An “easier language” is one like Spanish that has a great deal in common with English, especially if it also has a good match between the sounds and the spelling.)
Missionary candidates who will later need to learn a language outside of a regular language school should certainly attend all 3 sessions, as should those interested in doing translation or other demanding language work.
We offer the biblical alternative to cultural relativity. The courses emphasize both of the principles found in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23—adapting where possible for the sake of the Gospel, but remaining “under the law to Christ” in obedience to the Bible’s precepts and principles.
Learning a new language means becoming part of a new language community, and so it provides a new context for obeying our Lord’s command to “let your light so shine among men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The instructors have done foreign mission work in several languages, on three continents and on islands in 2 oceans. The director has done language analysis for missionaries on various fields in Asia and Africa.
With advanced degrees in linguistics, Bible and related fields, the instructors are qualified both through study in the relevant areas and through their own experience.
The small classes, the friendly campus atmosphere of Christian love, and the warmth and concern of the instructors all combine to give students confidence and all the help they need. As one student commented, “The folks around here are about as willing to help as I’ve ever seen. If someone leaves and still needs help, it is not the fault of the folks who run the course.”
Anyone is welcome who meets Bob Jones University’s admission criteria, whether or not you have previously taken college-level courses. To obtain applications, please visit Applying to BJU.
Graduate Degree Electives in Bible Translation
Most prospective missionaries take the missionary linguistics courses on the undergraduate level, but qualified college graduates can arrange to take them for graduate credit and apply them toward the Master of Arts degree in theological studies. The undergraduate and graduate classes meet together but have different requirements.
Two courses in Bible translation build on the missionary linguistics course offerings. Li 520 Bible Translation (3 credits) is a two-week course in late July, and the one-week course Li 521 Translation Technology (1 credit) follows it. These courses can be taken for graduate credit and serve as electives for the MA in theological studies.
The combination of studies in Greek and Hebrew exegesis, theology, OT and NT introduction, cultural anthropology, linguistics, and Bible translation provides ideal preparation for a ministry specializing in Bible translation. Learn more about the MA degree with electives in linguistics and Bible translation.