Sunday, January 12, 2014

What Does the Missionary Say?

Listening to sounds that I never knew existed. Making sounds that I never knew I could make. Using a mirror to look at my dry, chapped lips to see whether they touch my teeth when making a sound. Learning that some sounds are voiceless. Deciding if a letter has a voiceless or voiced sound.

This is just my first week at Compass, a missionary training class for language acquisition and cultural adaptation, being held at Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado. What a beautiful area of the country. I praise God for allowing me to make it here safely last Sunday and for having some free time to get out and see His creation. I am also very thankful that I can understand and say a few words in Hindi.  

What a minute! Did you read that correctly? Did I really say Hindi? But I'm heading to Kenya and I probably told you I needed to learn Turkana and Swahili. 

That's right, but  let me explain a little about language acquisition. We are learning how to learn a language, by learning about phonetics and language acquisition projects (LAP's) that will help us take control of our language learning.  Wow!

I feel I have always been a bad language learner and it has been so freeing to hear that there is a different way to do it. What a breakthrough for me. I also learned this week that I am in control of my learning. Super, I love being in control. I will preface that by saying that I am still relying on God to help me with this and I can do nothing without Him. However, the key is that I can control how I learn and what I learn. That also means that if I slack off I can't blame the teacher. If the process we are using isn't working for me and I don't change it, then it's not the teachers fault. It's mine. 

So to practice some of the LAP's we were divided into groups and native speakers of many other languages came here to help us. I am in the Hindi group and we are practicing how to use the LAP's, so we will be prepared when we start with our language helpers overseas.

We have also been doing phonetics drills. This is like a physical workout for your mouth and voice. Let me tell you there are some mighty strange sounds coming out of my mouth during these drills and we repeat them and then change them slightly to compare the similar sounds. I am not sure I can even hear the difference in some of them, but I am getting better. 

So…..."What Does the Missionary Say?" 

I am usually a little slow with pop culture references and I hadn't heard the song “What Does the Fox Say?” until about 3 weeks ago. Being a veterinarian I think it's kind of a fun song and now it's stuck in my head. So, it seemed natural to write a parody using some of the sounds we are learning.

I hope you enjoy this version and get a little better idea of what I have been doing this week. If you haven't heard "What Does the Fox Say?" you may want to listen to it before going on, so that the rest of this blog won't seem totally ridiculous.  Have fun!

 Dog goes woof, cat goes meow
Bird goes tweet and mouse goes squeak
Wait, this is not about animal sounds, but this week I hissed like a cat
I haven’t quacked, or said blub, but my brain said OW OW OW
And these are sounds that I now know……

What does the missionary say? 
 What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?

Small blue case, shiny mirror, watching my mouth and having no fear
Little symbols, on the page, suddenly I understand
The sound is right, so beautiful, like it’s not even my voice
But in an  hour, will I still know, how to make that
foreign no-o-o-o-oise, no-o-o-o-oise,
Will I loose my vo-o-o-o-oice, vo-o-o-o-oice, vo-o-o-o-oice?

What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?
What does the missionary say?

The secret of phonetics. No longer a mystery.
Somewhere in my mouth, the sound is coming to me.
I never knew how to say that. What a victory!
Getting better each day. What do I say?

No, it's not an angel, hiding inside of me.
What is that sound?
Will you listen to me?
 I want to tell you.
I want to tell you.
I want to tell you.

MTI is really awesome!


  1. Awesome Shannon! This is amazing! What a wonderful journey you are on. God will bless you and the others you touch in ways we could never imagine. Oh, and I LOVE Colorado! Best wishes to you and stay safe in all your travels. IN CHRISTIAN LOVE, Stephany Edelen

  2. Looks like it was all you hoped it would be in Colorado. So happy we connected. Praying for you as you move forward...