More Than an English Class

This post was written by DCO Kurtis Smith, who works for LINC-Twin Cities and is a missionary supported by the Minnesota South District.

It’s my goal to weave in God’s story whenever possible into the English classes I teach for East African immigrants. Christmas is a natural topic to discuss in an English class, but I wanted to save that discussion for our Christmas party on December 16th.

So, on December 9th, I decided to talk about Advent. But how could I do that in an English lesson? What could I do to help a class of elderly immigrants learn English in relation to our Christian preparations for Christmas?

Students and tutors complete learning activities

Students and tutors complete learning activities

During class on December 2nd, I had given students a list of “50 Important Questions” to learn for English conversation purposes. This activity provided me with a wonderful lead-in to our Advent discussion about the following questions: 

“What are you waiting for?”

“What are you hoping for?”

“What are you looking for?” 

After learning these phrases, I told the students that followers of Jesus like me look forward to Christmas. It was a season to talk about. Students would be noticing decorations, advertisements and television shows about Christmas during this time leading up to Christmas, so learning seasonal language was essential.

In order for students to understand what was being communicated, I distributed a list of alphabetized words having to do with Christmas, both Christian and secular terms. Advent was the first word on the list. I pointed out that Advent answered all three of the questions we’d discussed before. What were we waiting, hoping and looking for? Followers of Jesus wait, hope, and prepare for the coming of Jesus.

For the next activity, I shared a photo of an Advent wreath and talked about the meanings of the five candles. During this time I brought up the fact that, like Muslims, Christians believe that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus.

Tutors and students work together on the Advent word search

Tutors and students work together on the Advent word search

As a final activity, I presented an Advent word search for the students that I’d found online—the students loved it. None of them had ever done a word search. In my estimation, the class was a complete success from both an English and an evangelistic perspective. Students apparently agreed, closing the class with applause. Of course, maybe the applause was because I announced that next week I might bring Christmas cookies, but I’m hoping for the former.

DCO Intern Bob Etheridge and English students completing the Advent word search

DCO Intern Bob Etheridge and English students completing the Advent word search