USA (MNN) — It may seem that you've been hearing the terms ESL or TESOL more frequently as of late, and you probably have. As English booms across the globe, teachers are needed to teach the language overseas, and even in English-speaking countries.
The need for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in the United States is enormous. 21 million people in the States speak limited or no English. Many desire to learn but are waiting for opportunities.
Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan is responding to the need with a one-day conference.
"This will be the tenth annual ESL ministry conference at Cornerstone. It will be on April 2," says Dr. Michael Pasquale, Division Chair for Humanities at Cornerstone and director of the ESL conference. "As we've done in the past, we have different workshop focus groups for teaching…but also how to do ministry effectively."
The one-day conference has a full schedule packed with workshops on teaching grammar, incorporating games into the class setting, and making your ESL class a ministry tool.
But what if you don't have an ESL class? What if you don't even have a Masters? No problem. Actually, one of the most ideal settings for a class like this is right in your church. This conference should give you some of the tools you need to get a class started and start reaching out to your community.
Non-English speakers in America will go just about anywhere–even to a church–to learn English. "They want to be able to get a job, to fit into the community, to be able to feel a part of the country. And being able to learn [English] informally, even through a church setting, is very helpful for them," says Pasquale.
With this in mind, ESL can be a great way for churches to reach out to their communities. With 21 million people in need of English training, chances are, there are more than a few people who could use the training near you. Certainly everyone could use the Gospel. So why not combine the two?
"This kind of outreach is very relationship oriented. So you see people who come for a class, and the church is able to begin that. And it might take a while, but we are seeing stories about people coming to Christ through these kinds of ministry outreach events."
Maybe you don't feel comfortable teaching English, though, but still want to participate. This conference can help you, too. Non-English speakers need conversation partners, and the Cornerstone ESL conference can help you learn how to do that as well.
The conference is $50 for adults and only $30 for students if you register by March 18. You can fill out the registration form and explore the conference schedule at www.cornerstone.edu/esl or call Dr. Pasquale directly at 616.949.5300 ext. 1378. Get some members of your church together and attend. This could be the first step to a brand new ministry. Who knows what kind of stories of transformation you'll be telling this time next year?