Just a brief post. In 1884, Mormon missionaries in Mexico were using English classes as a proselytizing tool. By charging for the classes the missionaries were also able to cover some of their expenses.
Fast forward. In the late 1930s the missionaries in Argentina, where the Church was new and just moving out of the German-speaking colony in which it originally came to the country, LDS missionaries also offered English classes.
Fast forward again to the mid 1970’s when the Church was still in its first decade in Bolivia the missionaries often would offer English classes as a proselytizing technique.
Missionary cultures live when one missionary shares them with another and they are the points of initial encounter for most Latter-day Saints when they join the Church. On the one hand teaching English would seem an obvious thing for the Elders to do, since they were almost entirely from the United States, they spoke English, and the language was in demand because of the English empire and then the growth of U.S. power. On the other hand it is probably a practice that was invented somewhere as the Church moved into Latin America and then became part of the standard repertoire.
It was not just English. In Argentina the missionaries formed a basketball team to compete in local leagues, once again drawing on their skills as U.S. Americans. Basketball was a uniquely North American sport at a time when soccer was developing in the space of inter-ethnic encounters in immigrant Argentina; soccer would soon become one of the main idioms of Argentine nationalism. In Bolivia a different twist took place, when four Anglo-American missionaries recorded an album of Bolivian folklore with their distinctive English accents and musical cultures, even though they used local instruments and musical forms.
Somehow, Mormon missionary efforts became like an arm of the U.S. consulate in the teaching and sharing of the national culture and not just Mormonism. But how did this happen?
Teaching English, and the reliance on the missionaries’ foreign-ness as US citizens, could have been invented as a technique in 1880’s Mexico and then diffused. People with experience in the Mexican mission opened the Argentine mission, and from there one can track personnel in the opening of the other Latin American missions. Diffusion is plausible. But I do not know. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know since this almost systematic conjoining of US culture with religion is something that distinguishes Mormons from most other missionary efforts.