A piece from National Public Radio (NPR) details how missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints learn languages at the faith’s missionary training center in Provo, Utah.
NPR’s story focuses on a class of missionaries learning Mandarin Chinese. These young men and women will head out to their assigned areas of service after only nine weeks of study—a small time frame, NPR notes, compared with the U.S. military’s 64-week course in Mandarin taught at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.
How does the Church teach effectively in such a short time? They accomplish it through intense classroom instruction from teachers who are former missionaries, daily practice in realistic teaching situations, and learning by and following the Holy Spirit. As one missionary tells NPR, “Everything we do is trying to learn by and with the Spirit.”
“Many other students said the same thing in one way or another,” NPR adds, “and whether you share their faith or not, the results speak for themselves.”
While the Provo MTC teaches 56 languages (31 of which require the MTC-maximum nine weeks of training), the Church also has 14 international MTCs that teach a total of 7 foreign languages. And each instructor who teaches a language is either a native speaker or is fluent thanks to his or her own missionary service.
Preparation with Purpose: Life in a Mormon Missionary Training Center (includes infographic)