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The Road to Fluency

by SARAH DEAL GROWTH Language learning Seeing & not seeing fruit
The Road to Fluency
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Colossians 2:7

During my years serving as a Language Consultant in Asia Pacific, I was blessed with the opportunity to encourage and help guide my new co-workers on their linguistic and cultural journeys. 

As part of my training, I read about a principle that amazingly played out before my eyes as learners poured blood, sweat, and tears into this quest of becoming good communicators in their new context.

The principle boils down to this: No matter the language, our brain processes and digests linguistic information in these four basic steps on the road to fluency. 

First, we just try to communicate. Whatever it takes to get our point across. Little thought of grammar or structure. 

Second, alerted to the fact that grammar and structure exist, we rush into using it whenever we can, mostly unaware of our errors. 

Third, we speak in full linguistic form but with hesitancy, fully aware of our mistakes. 

Fourth, we speak comfortably as a fluent speaker. 

Here’s the takeaway. Growth often disguises itself as failure. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve sat with over the years who were sorely discouraged by their language progress, who had lost sight of how far they had come simply because they still made mistakes. This was my encouragement to them: the awareness of mistakes means you are 3/4 of the way to fluency!! 

And what about spiritual growth? Paul’s challenge to the Colossians was to let their roots grow down deep. It’s not just about the growth we can SEE. He is doing a work deep inside us. 

Just as mistakes are inevitable on the road to fluency, awareness of our sin is also necessary as we grow more like Christ. As God brings our sin into the light, we have opportunity to respond in faith to the fact that our sin debt has been taken care of through Christ! 

“He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14 

Though the path to growth can feel overwhelming, we can rejoice that our standing is secure!

Closing Prayer
Father, we praise you for Christ who gives us a position that is secure! We thank you for roots that run deep in your love. We pray that as we respond to truth in your Word, we won’t give into the temptation to be discouraged when you reveal sin in our lives. Thank you that there is no condemnation because of Christ’s death on the cross (Romans 8:1)! Help us to recognize and be thankful for the growth you are bringing in our lives. We trust you with our lives and we thank you for working even when we can’t see it clearly. Amen.
Blog: Language Learning and Walking with God by Cameron and Katy Pryor This blog makes some more interesting and encouraging connections between language learning and our walk with God!!
Song: Roots by Unspoken This song helps remind me of the truth that God is working underneath the surface to bring growth in my life!
Question for Reflection

Have you been tempted to be discouraged when a particular sin is revealed in your heart? Does it seem to keep popping up over and over again? How would your outlook change if you could start to see this as evidence of growth?

Sarah Deal
July 29, 2021

One sin God has been bringing into the light for me is my critical spirit. Though I am generally known as an encouraging person, I know I am actually very quick to pass judgment on others. This usually leads to me feeling a deep sense of shame and guilt. (Wouldn’t Satan just love if we stayed stuck in this part of the cycle?!) But when I come to God and agree with Him that this is part of the old sin nature that Christ died to free me from, I am free to throw off that guilt and choose to walk in freedom of his glorious forgiveness as I put on the new nature He has given me. When I realize that even the recognition of my sin is a part of the growth process, I can take heart, knowing that those roots are growing deep!!

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