Davis College - Pursue God

TESL – Crossing the Cultural Divide

Posted in Blog

cross-culture-communicationsThe Teaching English as a Second Language concentration is an exciting world offering many possibilities to explore. Do you have a heart for missions but don’t know where to start? TESL will get you there. Doors are open all over the world for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers; even countries that are closed otherwise to the gospel welcome ESL teachers with open arms.

Professor Bonnie Novak, Chair of the Davis Collegle TESL program, shares five ways your church can cross the cultural divide:

1. Make your worship music multi-cultural by integrating various styles including Latino, African-American, Asian, Indian, African, etc. into the song sets. Singing lyrics in the heart languages of the people would add greatly to the worship experience.

2. Provide Bibles in the native languages of the people attending your church. Even though the sermon may be in English, people still like to read along in their heart language. These could be available at the door of the auditorium.

3. Offer English as a second language classes at your church. With a one-day training workshop, you can get started on this.

4. Partner with another ethnic church and offer English as a second language classes there. For example, North Syracuse Baptist Church (North Syracuse, NY) partnered with a Burmese church in Syracuse, set up an ESL program, and sends volunteers every Tuesday night to work with about 50 students.

5. Have a block party which celebrates the culture of those you are trying to reach. Serve their ethnic foods, play games of their people group, and share the Good News either in their language or without words. Skits which are based on music and mime are usually understood cross culturally. This would take a little research, but it could be very effective if done properly.

The Apostle Paul said, “I become all things to all men that by all means I may save some.” (I Corinthians 9:22) Above all else, become culturally sensitive to all outside your own ethnicity. Be careful about what you say and how you say it. Be aware of gestures, customs, and protocol of the other cultures so that you do not commit a faux pas that will permanently offend. Many times Americans are guilty of doing this without ever knowing it.

Bonnie Novak is the TESL Concentration Chair, General Education Division Head, and Acting International Ministries Concentration Chair Davis College. In addition to her role at Davis College, Professor Novak is an auditor for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Founded in 1954, NCATE is the profession’s mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation. Through the process of professional accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education, NCATE works to make a difference in the quality of teaching and teacher preparation today, tomorrow, and for the next century. Novak’s expertise as a TESL educator and NCATE auditor provides a rich learning experience for students studying TESL at Davis College.