Fifty Ways #27 — Begin an English as a Second Language Ministry

Imagine that you’ve just been transferred with your family to the United States. While you’ve heard English on television, the sounds are still jarring to you—certainly not familiar.  Your spouse speaks English well enough for the job setting; your young children will be in school, picking up the new language quickly.  Because your assignment is temporary, your motivation to learn a second language is limited.  Yes, it would be helpful in shopping and making your way around a new city . . . but worth the effort to study strange new sounds? 


Or picture this?  You are new to the U.S.  You and your family have lived in a refugee camp for the past eight years.  You’ve heard some English, but no classes were available, and survival was more important than trying to learn a language. Now you have access to ESL – but for just a few months.  And the pressure to learn so many new things is overwhelming.  Access to classes is the biggest hurdle.  And childcare is nonexistent.

Your family has lived in the US for years but it’s been easier to stick with your first language. Everything you wanted to do could be accomplished in your mother tongue. No one could have guessed the stress that would accompany family disruption.  Now you have to enter the work force. And you find yourself challenged by limited English proficiency.

class in session 

Good news!  Churches across Texas have been planning for you.  In some cases for more than forty years, instruction in ESL has been offered in local churches.  For internationals and refugees and immigrants. More than 2,000 persons volunteer in church-based ESL ministries or programs each week through the school year.  Most do not speak the language of their students.  Since they collectively teach persons from 85 countries, this is not surprising. More classes are needed though.  Many more.

 Consider beginning an English as a second language ministry.  We’d like to help you do just that. Contact us at  It’s one more way volunteers are making a difference in communities in Texas.  Join us!

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It’s National Volunteer Month!

I am working through the list of 50 Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy.  However, for the month of April – National Volunteer Month – I’m taking a side bar.  That said, consider which of the 50 Ways would get very far without volunteers.  Not many, if any. The list is volunteer driven.  For example, I was going to blog today about #22:  Celebrate educational achievement by recognizing graduates. 

50 Ways slanted background with shadow

Suppose I were writing about that.  About the importance of paying attention to those who have achieved the milestone of completing high school, college, or graduate school.  What probably would have happened in some church, somewhere, would be that a lay person – a volunteer if you will – would have e-mailed a church staff member and said something like, “Why don’t we have special recognition for graduates this May?” or “I’d be happy to volunteer to help with the graduate recognition this year.”  Likely, that person would have been turned loose to blow up balloons, make punch, or buy special Bibles for those graduating. 

Imagine the good things that happened at the Red Oak Baptist Church in Longview when several churches joined to congratulate the graduates.  Picture busy volunteers making good memories for grads and their families.  Blessing young people and strengthening bonds in the community.

Local churches, families recognize graduates

Perhaps you’ve already made a note to check with your church leadership about what’s going to happen this May in your church.  It wouldn’t surprise me.  That’s just what you do!  So here at Literacy Connexus, we’re celebrating you this month.  Thanks for volunteering!  You are a blessing to your community.

PS  Good news:  The list of 50 Ways is now available in Spanish.  Thank you, Texas Baptists.   Just e-mail us and we’ll send it your way.

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