Exploring Theological English: Reading, Vocabulary, and Grammar for ESL/EFL

by Cheri L. Pierson, Lonna J. Dickerson, and Florence R. Scott.

Piquant Editions, P.O. Box 83, Carlisle, CA3 9GR, 378 pages, 2010, $27.95.

Reviewed by Mary Shepard Wong, professor, Global Studies, Sociology, and TESOL Department, Azusa Pacific University.

For multilingual seminary students who are seeking to expand their repertoire of English reading strategies, increase their reading comprehension of theological texts, and acquire a more nuanced understanding of theological terms, Exploring Theological English is a welcomed resource. It is the ideal textbook for high-intermediate to advanced level English learners in a seminary context. Written by three authors with backgrounds in both theology and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), this text is both pedagogically sound and theologically informed.

It has a lot to offer readers, including an introduction, ten chapters, four appendixes, notes, references, and two indexes. Each chapter starts with a portion of scripture and has five or six sections of readings, exercises, and tasks, all clearly presented in a visually attractive and easy-to-read format.

The text flows and is well integrated due to its theological themed chapters with relevant grammatical points. For example, chapter four, “Revelation,” addresses “How can we know God?” in the focused reading section, teaches adjective clauses like “The light that God has given us is the gospel” in the grammar section, and reviews prefixes such as “omni” as in  “omnipotent” in the vocabulary section. The grammatical exercises and academic and theological vocabulary flow out of the readings, which are based on the theological theme, thus providing cohesiveness.

The authors also provide a focus on form and accuracy, which is needed to understand and communicate complex concepts found in theological writing. This balance of a communicative approach with a focus on form, along with the integration of theological themes with grammatical points presented in a nonintrusive manner, are only two of the reasons students and instructors should consider adopting this text.

A useful 146-page Teacher’s Guide is available by the same authors. The guide provides two cloze tests that can be copied and used to ensure that students’ reading level is adequate for the text. Results will show whether students are at a “frustration level,” “instructional level,” or “independent level.” The guide has suggestions for getting started, general guidelines for all chapters, and teaching notes. It also has a complete answer key and useful ESL resources.

Check these titles:
Dodd, Debbie. 2003. Dictionary of Theological Terms in Simplified English: A Resource for English-Language Learners. Wheaton, Ill.: EMIS.

Pierson, Cheri L. 2003. Dictionary of Theological Terms in Simplified English: A Student Workbook. Wheaton, Ill.: EMIS.

Purgason, Kitty, ed. 2010. English Language in Theological Contexts. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library.


EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 4, p 494. Copyright  © 2011 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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