NPR investigates MTC's successful language program

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  • Mark C Gilbert, SC
    June 12, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    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!

  • David Centerville, UT
    June 11, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    @ Aerilus

    Not 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.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    June 11, 2014 11:37 a.m.

    @ David

    Eh 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.

  • David Centerville, UT
    June 11, 2014 10:06 a.m.


    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.

  • AerilusMaximus Berryville, VA
    June 10, 2014 6:05 p.m.

    @ Chris B

    I 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.

  • David Centerville, UT
    June 10, 2014 4:27 p.m.

    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 need.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:25 p.m.

    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.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    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 spirit.

  • Big Joe V Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    June 10, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    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 rationalization.

  • River Coug Fort Mohave, AZ
    June 10, 2014 1:36 p.m.

    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.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    June 10, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    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 B Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 1:06 p.m.

    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

  • Aggie5 Kuna, ID
    June 10, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    Baptism required!

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    June 10, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    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.

  • marmajean Bedminster, PA
    June 10, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    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.

  • lixircat Indianapolis, IN
    June 10, 2014 4:23 a.m.

    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 was embarrassing. I was given the ability for as long as it was necessary and no longer.

  • Yvonne Moore Bountiful, UT
    June 10, 2014 3:58 a.m.

    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.

  • rj Moss, Norway
    June 10, 2014 12:18 a.m.

    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.

  • LeDoc SLC, UT
    June 9, 2014 5:37 p.m.

    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 :-)