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March 18, 2013 / andreasterzuk

Missionaries, English language teaching, and the University of Regina

Last week, in my critical issues and second language education graduate course, we read and talked about Christianity, missionary work and English language teaching. Two articles informed our conversation:

Pennycook, A., & Makoni, S.. (2005). The modern mission: The language effects of Christianity. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 4(2), 137-155.

Varghese, M. M. &, Johnston, B. (2007), Evangelical Christians and English Language Teaching. TESOL Quarterly, 41: 5–31. doi: 10.1002/j.1545-7249.2007.tb00038.x

My students generally disapproved of using English language teaching  to proselytize. The following student’s comments sum up the overall sense of our discussion: “I understand that teaching is in itself value-laden. We bring to our classrooms our belief systems. As such, there can never be a complete division of faith and teaching. However, the difference I see is in that Evangelical ELT teachers are using their profession as a mission.”  English language teaching should not be used as a way to convert students to Christianity.

After we came back from our coffee break, a student showed me this photo she had taken of a poster outside our classroom door. The poster advertises two free 45-minute English classes offered in a classroom in the University library. While the poster promises English language improvement, I’m left feeling that a more accurate title for this poster might be something along the lines of Come and talk in English about Christianityphoto

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