Now more than ever, people are learning English as their second, third or fourth language. English has become a lingua franca, muchlike Koine Greek was in Christ’s day. A recent estimate places the total number of English speakers well above 1.5 billion, with less than a third of those being native speakers.
Many American Christians have seen the opportunities this presents, both at home and abroad. Churches run adult English classes for immigrants, while sending members to teach English in countries where missionaries are forbidden. Other believers teach ESOL in K-12 schools or in a college setting. The growing demand for English teaching is surely a God-ordained occasion for Christians to love their neighbors and bring the gospel to the nations.
But what are the foundations for such an effort? Are there any unintended consequences? What should our motives be? In other words, does the Bible have anything to say about teaching English? Where does it fit into God’s big story?