How do missionaries know if they are making progress in learning the language? Zach Cann explains the four-part test they recently took to determine their fluency level in his post “When 25%” Isn’t Failing”:

“The first is a basic grammar test where we take English sentences and translate them into the Ndo language. It checks to see if we know how to make a sentence a question or how to make a verb a command.

Next, we … listen to our language helpers tell us a story in Ndo about a time we did something together. We have to use our minimal knowledge of the language and context to comprehend 10 points from the story.

After that, it is our turn to tell a story. During this test, our poor language helpers have to hear our broken Ndo and try to comprehend 10 points from our story. Of course, if they can’t it’s not their fault.

And finally, we have to answer a series of questions about their culture to see if we are learning who these people are and not simply how they speak.”

Why is it important that missionaries learn the language? Because it is a message that saves people. It’s not clean drinking water, new shoes, or being literate that saves. It is a message. Since it is a message that saves people, it makes sense that the messengers must first be able to clearly communicate to the people they are trying to reach.

We are so thankful for Zach and Cassidy’s dedication to learning the Ndo language. Imagine if you hadn’t heard the Gospel yet, and your hope for hearing rested in missionaries first learning your language. If missionaries were working hard to learn your language as quickly as possible, wouldn’t that make you curious about the important message they have come to communicate? Because of their urgency, Zach and Cassidy are building a case for the Gospel in the minds of their hearers.

Check out the full story of Zach and Cassidy’s language test at