Immersion: The Key To A New Language And Identity

Immersion: The Key To A New Language And Identity

by Shingai Ndinga

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful

Joshua 1:8

My daughter Elikia speaks English at the moment. The idea was to teach her French, as well as two other African languages. However, the challenge has been that English has become a default language. I grew up speaking French, even did two levels of public examinations in this language.

Due to circumstances beyond my control — which involved me moving from Congo to Zimbabwe, and as a result, I had to learn English as soon as possible. I landed in Zimbabwe in December 1999, and by January 2000 I was already enrolled in school (Grade 10/Form 3) with no prior English lessons! What were my parents thinking!

My first test was in Biology class and it involved stating the ways in which HIV can be contracted. I knew it all in French but I could not write anything substantial in English. So, my answer sheet was blank. Sigh.

As we lived with my aunt, she had a very strict rule: No French In My House. At the time, I thought that she was harsh and unfair, but it pushed me to absorb as much English as I could.

It made me think about how with Elikia, all I have to do is to just keep on speaking French, no matter what! In fact, the very first day I intentionally started exclusively speaking French to her, she even said “C’est no!”⁠— trying to say “I said ‘no’”. Even though it was not one hundred percent correct, I got what she was trying to say. She’s only 4 years old and I could never be upset that she isn’t fluent in this present moment.

When we take on our new identity in Christ, our language changes, not just orally but rather mentally, emotionally, and spiritually too. Our thought process ought to change as well. But it won’t happen without wilful, intentional, deliberate and relentless effort ⁠— just as I had to be intentional about learning the English language, and just as I have to be about teaching Elikia the French language.

One of the tools that helps us to shift and embrace our new identity is music (which definitely shifts the atmosphere we are in), the Scriptures we read, attending church, and fellowship with other believers. These things ought to be done consistently in order for us to bear the fruit of our new “language” and identity.

I want to encourage us to stay in God’s word, to listen to music that uplifts our spirit and that helps us conform to the image that we want to see ourselves in God.

Keep on keeping on. Keep on speaking the truth about who God says we are. Keep on meditating on his statutes and let’s get immersed in His word.

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