Publication details [#59474]

Kirk, Rachel W. 2014. Spanish proficiency, cultural knowledge, and identity of Mormon returned missionaries. Spanish in Context 11 (1) : 1–26.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


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.