Spanish proficiency, cultural knowledge, and identity of Mormon returned missionaries
This article examines the linguistic skills, cultural knowledge, and assimilation of students who have completed a Spanish-language mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a population that attains a high level of fluency in a second language. The results of a written survey completed by 103 students who had served Spanish-language missions are described. These students’ linguistic strengths and weaknesses resemble those of heritage language learners, while their motivation and cultural understanding are more similar to those of traditional foreign language students. Although these students lived in the target culture for an extended period of time and many attained a high level of linguistic proficiency, their awareness of cultural issues and ability to articulate them were limited. It seems that certain attributes of the Hispanic culture may have become ingrained in the students’ personalities nonetheless.
Keywords: missionaries, heritage language learners, second language acquisition
Published online: 12 May 2014
2012 “Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup: Mormonism Fastest Growing Faith; Richard Grennell; Muslim Prom.” Religion News Service, May 2. Accessed May 26, 2012. http://www.religionnews.com/culture/arts-and-media/wednesdays-religion-news-roundup65.
2007 “Utah Less Mormon than Ever.” Salt Lake Tribune, November 18. Accessed June 24, 2011.
Carreira María, M.
2003 “Profiles of SNS Students in the Twenty-First Century: Pedagogical Implications of the Changing Demographics and Social Status of US Hispanics.” In Mi lengua: Spanish as a Heritage Language in the United States , ed. by A. Roca, and M.C. Colombi, 170–197. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Carreira, María M., and Olga Kagan
Council for Cultural Cooperation
2000 European Language Portfolio (ELP): Principles and Guidelines . Strasbourg: Council of Europe (DGIV/EDU/LANG (2000) 33). http://culture.coe.int/portfolio.
Granger, Colette A.
Jones, Jeffery M.
2010 “Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah Rank as Most Conservative States.” Gallup Politics , August 2. Accessed May 23, 2011. http://www.gallup.com/poll/141677/wyoming-mississippi-utah-rank-conservative-states.aspx
Kono, Nariyo, and Scott McGinnis
Lam, Wan Shun Eva
2006 Edition 24–27. Accessed June 21, 2011.
Morgan, Brian D.
Peirce, Bonny Norton
Savignon, Sandra J.
Schneider, G., and Peter Lenz
Schwartz, Ana María
Stack, Peggy Fletcher, and Lisa Schencker
2012 “News of Lower Mission Age Excites Mormons.” Salt Lake Tribune, October 6. Accessed December 17, 2012.
Stack, Peggy Fletcher
2007 “Mission Metamorphosis.” In The Salt Lake Tribune, June 30. Accessed June 21, 2011.
U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
2008 The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 99–100. Accessed June 21, 2011.