Returned missionaries at BYU-Hawaii find it difficult to keep up with their mission language after returning from their missions but said practicing is the key to maintaining it.
Samuel Hadley, a sophomore from Pohnpei studying political science, served for two years in the Philippines Manila Mission and spoke Tagalog. He said since being back the language has been fading away. “One time, I had an opportunity to teach my friend a lesson after my mission, but I realized that I stumbled throughout the lesson. The words you don’t use every day are hard to maintain.”
He said he found ways to practice Tagalog by keeping in contact with converts and investigators, and listening to Tagalog music.
“With daily duties, everyone hardly has any time to study the language after being home for a while. You’ve got to find a reason to use it. So make the language become important to you. Keep in contact with the people you love, your converts and investigators. Find things you like about the culture, such as music, politics, or anything interesting to you.”
Rachel Reed, a senior from Utah studying English, said she learned Spanish when she served in the Chili Santiago Mission. She said she tries to keep the mindset that she has never left. “Read the Book of Mormon in your mission language even after the mission. Think of how learning the language is beneficial to you in the future.”
Reed also said, “I text, call, and email the people I met in the mission in Spanish. I also made friends with the Spanish speakers and always speak the language to them.”
Jordan Holbrook, a junior from California studying English, served in the Korea Seoul South Mission where she learned Korean for almost a year and a half. She said although she feels shy to speak it because she isn’t as fluent, she is motivated to keep learning the language because she believes she was called to the country for a reason.
“There must be a special purpose for me to spend so much time learning the language. I do not want to waste the amount of effort that I have put forth,” said Holbrook. She said she tries to practice it by making more Korean friends and practicing with a tutor every week. “I also listen to Korean music and sing hymns in Korean.”
Holbrook added, “Keep praying in your mission language. Pray for the gift of tongues. Remember there is a purpose that you were called to there. Ask for help from the Spirit, and the Spirit will help you to remember.”
To those who struggle with keeping up the mission language, Hadley suggested, “Language is like muscles, you have to keep using it in order to maintain it. If you stumble and forget a word, make sure to remember it next time. Think that language skills are very useful and it's something to be put on your resume.”