The 3rd week of CCMI training is something called PILAT. It sounds like “pilot” and stands for Program In Language Acquisition Techniques. I’d heard that it was the hardest part of CCMI, and that certainly turned out to be true!! The program itself isn’t hard, necessarily, but the days were long and we were tired by the end of them.
The basic premise behind PILAT is to give us skills for acquiring language….any language. Of the 100+ missionaries here, we’re all going to different places all around the world. We have people learning Spanish, French, Wolof, Japanese, Chinese, German, Arabic, Khmer, and a few others. Instead of focusing on one specific language, this program teaches us acquisition skills that help with learning any language, and techniques to put these skills into practice once we get to the field. We learned some of the basics of phonetics, practiced “drills” on how to make sounds that aren’t found in English, and how to figure out how to reproduce a sound that isn’t familiar. We also learned alot of tips on how to find a “language helper” when you get to the field, and the types of things to do with them to help learn the language. We were given so many practical ideas and tools to help us learn our language once we get to wherever we’re going. It definitely makes me excited to get to Colombia and start working on my Spanish!
Unfortunately, Nate started getting sick at the beginning of the week, and lost his voice for a few days. I harassed him and told him he was faking because he didn’t want to do the drills (: But I think it was legit…especially since I started getting it too by the weekend.
Since we were in class from 9am until 4:30 or 5pm each day, we didn’t do much else throughout the week. We came home, fed the boys, and put them to bed…especially since they were exhausted from not getting much of a nap in their childcare class! They were exhausted too, and it really started showing in the evenings. On Wednesday, Nate actually skipped the afternoon portion of the class just so he could bring them home and put them to bed for a good nap, and I went to the rest of class on my own. It turned out to be a good thing, because we were hit with a HUGE storm, and I had to run home in the rain wearing a trash bag. It was good the boys weren’t with me! [click here to check out pics in a news article from the crazy storm!]
Overall, the week was long and tiring, but helpful. I’m a language person anyway…my undergrad is in English and I took years of French, phonetics, and linguistic classes. I love learning about language, so this week was right up my ally. And since I’m a talker/verbal processor, I’m pretty motivated to learn Spanish once we get to the field (especially with two little adopted Spanish-speakers joining our family in the next year or two!) I can’t imagine too many things worse than being surrounded by a ton of people I can’t talk to (: I’m definitely glad to have some tools to help me learn it a little quicker.