I didn't serve a mission but I became very fluent in another language while
serving in the military. For me, 2 things were key. The 1st was attitude. I
figured most of the people I know aren't rocket scientists but they can all
speak; if they can learn, so can I.The next thing was just immersion. You
can make it if you try :-)
Agree wholeheartedly with LeDoc. Attitude and immersion are key. I did serve a
mission, but have since had the opportunity to learn a third language in Norway.
Here, attitude is particularly critical, because the locals speak English so
well that it's just easier for them to communicate in English rather than
allow you to tough it out and stumble in their language. English speakers pick
up on this and their language development becomes stunted. In that regard,
it's easier for language learners to pick up their foreign language where
it's essential to their survival in that land.
No one can learn languages faster than by submitting to God's will,
humbling yourself, working through the spirit of Love and
brotherhood/sisterhood. Mankind's natural man will not understand the power
given to these missionaries from on high.I served a mission in South Korea many
years ago. Yes I studied for 3 months in the MTC to learn the language, the ways
of the people and how to teach but even though I had previously studied Spanish
for two years in High School. It was nothing to the ability to speak to the
people there and learn to give them not just the words but the truth. I will
always remember that time with fondness.
I took 3 years of French in high school, but I passed all that within 2 weeks at
the MTC. Then early on in France I had a few experiences with the gift of
tongues while testifying (fleeting moments of fluency well beyond my abilities
at that point). I eventually became fluent, but within two weeks back in the
states I had lost it. Tried to speak to some french customers at the outlet mall
I was working at...it was embarrassing. I was given the ability for as long as
it was necessary and no longer.
One thing NPR does not understand is The Gift of Tongues which is given to every
missionary that is going to a location that does not speak their native tongue.
It's a wonderful thing to see. My daughter served in San Joes, CA Spanish
speaking. She took Spanish in HS all the way up to AP but had trouble
understanding native speakers due to all the slang they used (much like the
English speaking people do!)but in no time flat was able to converse and
understand them without much of a problem.
While I'm sure NPR was searching for a purely secular explanation, there is
no way you can discount God's influence and the great blessings he pours
out upon those who accept His call to serve. Having gone through the MTC
program years ago and had two children go through it as well I believe the
program provides a strong base in the language that the missionaries are then
able to build on when they are immersed in the language in the country they are
called to serve in.
It would be interesting to have a group of college students go through the same
rigorous courses but without the "spirit" with the and then compare how
language skills of the two groups. If the missionary group is equal is worse
than the student group, then the "spirit" didn't impact anything.
If the missionaries are better, then there is evidence of something they had
that the students didn't.I would be curious the results
Being teachable. That's the secret. Immersion helps, yes, but if you
aren't prepared to learn, then you won't. Learning a foreign language
is difficult, embarrassing, and humbling. It requires an open mind and the
ability to willingly make mistakes in front of others. Missionaries, by
definition, have made the choice to be students. That said, we've all
known missionaries who weren't very proficient in either language or their
lessons. Of course being on the Lord's errand helps, but God still helps
those who are willing to do the work also.
Chris, I really like most of your comments that don't pertain to BYU. This
is just speculation on my part,but I'll bet the missionaries would do
better because they're motivated by what they believe to be a higher
purpose. I can't think of many endeavors in which, all else being equal, a
sense of having a higher purpose doesn't make a major difference. So,
you'd still have the question of whether it's the Spirit or a
perceived higher purpose. My admittedly biased opinion is that it's both.
The world just doesn't get it. The spirit can't penetrate the wall of
scepticism and doubt. So the world just comes up with some half baked
Our son was put in the Advanced Russian group at the MTC because he had been
with us to the USSR. But he only knew how to say "Ice Cream please." He
was overwhelmed because all the others had 2-3 years of high school Russian.
Crushed, he got on his knees and pleaded, "I can't do this without
you." He prayerfully, and determinedly set to the task at hand. He was the
first one to pass off the first discussion in Russian. Within six months of
entering Ukraine, he was alone, with a companion that had been out 5 months, in
a big city. It was a struggle, but they did well. He attributes this success to
one thing: divine help in a quickening of the mind and a strengthening of his
River Coug,I certainly don't disagree that believing in a
higher purpose could lead to improved language skills. Valid point. And as
much as I disagree with the LDS church, I sincerely would be interested in such
a study to see whether there is truth to any of it.
Moroni 7:33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have
power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.Moroni 10:8 And
again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they
are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that
these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and
they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men....Moroni 10:19 ...and all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are
spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only
according to the unbelief of the children of men. These gifts of
the Spirit all come from Christ through His Spirit. I remember the exact place
I was at in the Philippines when I cast out my doubt and fears, opened my mouth
and began to speak Cebuano. I am grateful for a loving God who helps us in our
@ Chris BI think there is a lot of things that outsiders could learn
from the church from the MTC that they may or may not be missing.If
you actually ponder and think about the MTC and how it is organized it fosters
the ability to focus simply on the task at hand. You should look
into the book fluent in 3 months on amazon. It is a pretty short read but it
explains techniques of how you can pick up a language more quickly.A
lot of the techniques mentioned in the book are readily recognizable to me now
that I compare what the book has said and what the MTC does.I am not
trying to knock what a bunch of other commenters have been saying regarding the
spirit because I do believe that the spirit is a PART of the process. I am just
not one to believe that the spirit does all the work. I believe it can inspire
us in the right direction but we still have to exercise our faith and move out
feet in that direction.I believe that a good chunk of it is also
just inspired organization.
AerilusMaximus,I agree with you in that God doesn't give us
gifts of the Spirit without any effort on our part. We must work and show our
faith first.Ether 12:9 Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be
partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.Ether 12:6 ...I
would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen;
wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after
the trial of your faith.Missionaries study, pray, exercise faith and
work hard for months to become fluent in language. But at some point, the
repeated pattern is that God mercifully extends his gift of language
(tongues)...after the missionary has exercised his faith by his works.This is a true pattern in every aspect of life.
@ DavidEh I am not sure what exactly you are disagreeing with me
on?So to further my previously made point in the doctrine and
covenants it states the following:"And as all have not faith,
seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of
the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by STUDY and also by
FAITH;"There is a conference talk in the 90's by a sister
ozuzaki or osuzaki or ozusaki. Anyhow that talks a lot about learning by STUDY
and also by FAITH.
@ AerilusNot disagreeing at all with you. In fact, I agree
completely with you. I wrote: "Missionaries study, pray, exercise faith
and work hard for months to become fluent in language..."I think
we're on the same page.
I applaud this reporter's thoughtful and well-worded description of the
subject and his proper use of the name of the Church. He also wasn't there
to find a chink in the armor to exploit but concentrated on the marvelous
success, recognizing that perhaps there is no other explanation for that success
than what the missionaries testified--it can only be explained in spiritual
terms--and for this reporter, it was OK to make that part of his report.
Somewhat courageous an NPR story!