Recently, I wrote about how teaching English is a significant way you can share your power, your life, and perhaps even the gospel. But even if you are unable to commit to teaching English in a classroom setting, you can still teach through personal relationships! Here are a few examples, from highest to lowest commitment level.
1. Conversation partners — If you’re learning a language — suppose you’re learning Thai — you could find a native Thai speaker who wants to improve her English skills and meet regularly to talk. My mother is a great example of this: for years she has been learning Spanish. She started out self-teaching with books and CDs, but a year in, she met a Hispanic woman who wanted to improve her English. So they started meeting weekly to converse in English and Spanish. It’s been three years, and her first conversation partner has since moved, but my mom has been able to continue meeting with other Spanish-speaking women to work on her Spanish and help them work on their English. Although it wasn’t her original goal, she’s also been able to help her conversation partners find what they need (medical services, sports leagues, etc). And everyone has improved their second language skills!
If this sounds interesting, your biggest challenge may actually be making the contacts. You could start by contacting the teachers of adult ESL classes in your area, or by looking for churches in your area that are composed of people who speak your target language.
2. Editing a friend’s papers — If you know a student who’s a non-native English speaker, they may appreciate having a native English speaker read over their papers. You don’t have to be a grammarian! As a native speaker, you have an ear for what sounds “right” and what doesn’t.