How to reach the nations among us through ESL

November 19, 2018

Teaching English as a second language (ESL) to adult immigrants and refugees can be a great way to share the gospel with internationals.

However, simply inserting devotions and praying during ESL classes often doesn’t bear fruit because most students don’t come from a Christian background or worldview. They don’t have a context for the prayer or the devotion, which results in confusion or disinterest.

But an evangelistic heart and a little creativity can go a long way.

The International Learning Center (ILC) of Jacksonville, Fla., offers a vibrant and interactive approach to helping internationals learn English and gain an understanding of American culture, while also introducing them to the grand story of the Bible.

The ILC has created engaging lesson plans for five different levels of English proficiency which focus on using English in everyday life and work. The lesson plans utilize a textbook curriculum but expand on the concepts through pronunciation exercises, vocabulary development in real-life situations, conversation, writing, reading and more, all using games and exercises that make learning fun and effective.

ILC’s ESL classes meet twice a week for an hour-and-a-half. Additionally, there’s a phonics reading club and an advanced reading club that each meet for a half hour. The clubs teach standard reading skills such as plot, setting, characters, sequence of events, prediction and more using the Bible as the text.

An evangelistic heart and a little creativity can go a long way.

The clubs start with teaching Old Testament stories in the fall, celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas and then share stories about the life of Jesus in the spring. The structure and flow establishes a strong foundation of biblical history and truth. When the Resurrection story is ultimately shared, students understand the truth of Christ and the gospel.

A staff member with an evangelistic calling follows up by sharing their personal testimony and an invitation to respond to Christ’s invitation for a personal relationship. ILC staff members have seen a tremendous response to the gospel by students who have learned the story of our mighty and loving God.

ILC’s classroom and reading club curriculum is suitable for use in other ministry contexts. The pre-written lesson plans, forms and protocols that ILC has produced provides streamlined ministry operations, effective student placement and evaluation processes, spiritual training for ESL staff members, marketing strategies and more.

ILC has taught more than 6,000 students from more than 110 countries in the past 18 years, and more than 100 house churches have been planted. During this time, thousands of individuals have professed faith in Christ.

Staff members from the International Learning Center will be sharing more about how God is working through its ESL ministry during the Reaching the Nations in North America Summit, scheduled for April 26-27, 2019 at Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. For more information, visit

by Holly Blann  
/  Contributing Writer

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