English Language Teaching in Theological Contexts

by Kitty Barnhouse Purgason, ed.

William Carey Library, 1605 East Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 224 pages, 2010, $13.99.

Reviewed by Lonna J. Dickerson, director, Institute for Cross-Cultural Training, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College.

Many thousands of seminary and Bible school students all over the world use English every day in their theological studies. Some need English in order to gain access to the wealth of biblical and theological publications available only in English. Some are studying at institutions where English is the only common language of students and faculty. Others are international students pursuing degrees in the U.K., the U.S, or another English-speaking country.

Unfortunately, many of these individuals do not have the level of English proficiency required for tasks such as reading biblical journals and textbooks, understanding lectures, writing papers, and communicating on a professional level. Furthermore, many of their instructors have little or no professional preparation in teaching English to speakers of other languages. They know they need help, but many don’t know where to find it.

English Language Teaching in Theological Contexts provides teachers with practical guidance for addressing these challenges, and offers encouragement from those who have succeeded in similar situations. This small book began with conference presentations at two professional meetings of Christian ESL/EFL teachers. In order to reach an even broader audience, Kitty Purgason of Biola University agreed to edit a volume of such papers. With twenty-three articles from eighteen authors, this book includes contributions from those who work with both low and high proficiency students, teach in small and large programs, are native speakers of English, and are second-language speakers.

The first half of the book presents case studies of a dozen English teaching programs in eight countries. Each author lists challenges facing instructors and students, and outlines steps taken to meet those challenges. The descriptions are detailed enough that readers can glean practical insights and suggestions for their own teaching/learning situations.

The second half focuses on the variety of English teaching materials used in theological English programs, including audio and video resources. Some of these materials are available commercially; others only from the authors. This section is particularly rich in offering suggestions that will inspire instructors to develop their own materials.

This one-of-a-kind book provides many helpful ideas for designing and implementing an effective program for students of theological English and for creating, adopting, or adapting teaching materials for these programs.


EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 116, 118. Copyright  © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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