If you can read this, you have power.
English is the language of power in many contexts around the world. In the US, the UK, and Australia, it’s the common language of society, but it’s also the language of much business and internet activity the world over.
Here’s the thing: language ability is a power that can multiply! As Andy Crouch has argued in his excellent new book, the Christian view of power is not a zero-sum game. Sharing power multiplies power. Crouch gives the example of a banjo lesson: the student’s ability (power) with the banjo is increased, and the teacher’s power is not decreased at all. If anything, his enjoyment of and skill with the banjo are increased as he works with his student.
Likewise with language learning. My years of teaching ESOL have only increased my facility with the English language — and more importantly, that of my students. Through our time together, they are better equipped to navigate and negotiate in an English-dominant society.
So teaching ESOL is a significant way you can share your power, your life, and perhaps even the gospel! (I’ve written elsewhere about how English teaching fits into God’s big story.)
But where can you start? The opportunities for teaching English are legion, so I’ve gathered and grouped them into categories. They’re arranged on a spectrum of sorts, from highest commitment to lowest commitment.
Full Time Classroom Contexts
1. English as missions — Like any other missionary, you can get commissioned, raise support, and go to another country to make disciples of Jesus. The difference here is the means: you’ll go as an English teacher. This is one of the main ways that missionaries get into countries that otherwise wouldn’t allow them. The key here is to actually teach English, and to do a good job of it! My wife’s cousin and her husband taught English in East Asia for a few years through a program like this, and they loved it. There are plenty of organizations sending to China, Mexico, and all over the world (both short-term and long-term). Most sending agencies will train you how to teach.