Reaching the Unreached through Language.
Whether it’s teaching English to speakers of other languages or learning Arabic whilst living with and loving those in Egypt, language plays a fundamental role in serving the nations. In this 3-part series, Rebekah, part of the Unreached team at Redeemer Church and an English teacher at Open Doors International Language School (ODILS) in Plymouth, shares what she’s learnt recently about how language can be used to reach the unreached in the UK and beyond.
In my first few weeks of teaching at ODILS, I asked the students in my classes the following ‘get to know you’ questions: ‘What’s your name? Where do you come from? What language/s do you speak?’ As each student introduced themselves in this way, I realized that language is such an intrinsic part of our identity – we often use language to express who we are, our values, our beliefs, our culture and to relate to others. Whether they speak one language or multiple, each language the students at ODILS speak comes with a story and a history.
Building bridges of communication:
Learning language enables somebody from one nation to communicate with somebody from another nation. It’s amazing to me that the students at ODILS come from different nations, speaking different languages. Yet the learning of English is building a bridge of communication between us all and unites us together. Within one of my classes, as each student answered the ‘get to know you’ questions, the faces of a Bulgarian student and a Turkish student lit up as they realized they could both speak to each other in Turkish. Having this bridge of communication across cultures enables us to share lives and, as Jesus-followers, to share Him.
Integration and belonging:
For the refugees and asylum seekers that ODILS serves, being able to speak English is so important because, as one student commented, ‘language is like bread…I need it to live!’ For them, to live in the UK, there is such a need to learn English….to speak with their neighbours and local friends, to understand and communicate with their GP, their children’s school teacher, the shop assistant in Aldi, their colleagues at work and…I could go on! Learning English is therefore vital for them to integrate into their new community and feel like, to some degree, they belong to it. And I would feel the same way if I moved to Brazil, Egypt, Thailand…that no matter how hard I would find learning my new country’s native language, it would be so important not only to live there but to also speak about and live like Jesus amongst those around me.
ODILS is a Christian-based language school in Plymouth which serves asylum seekers, refugees and marginalized people groups through the teaching of English. As well as reaching and loving the nations God has brought to our doorstep, ODILS also trains and equips Jesus-followers to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). If you have a heart for the nations, in the UK or overseas, our CertTESOL course is a wonderful tool to reach the nations across cultures and languages. To find out more, please visit our Odils Equip website.