English Teaching and Outreach Forum – a review

English Teaching and Outreach Forum – a review

by | Mar 31, 2015 | Blog

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Based in Reading, UK, the annual  English Teaching and Outreach Forum is designed to inspire and develop church based ESL teachers and equip them in their local friendship and cross-cultural outreach. 

‘As someone not involved in the front line of English teaching in churches, I boarded the train to the forum full of questions: is it for me? Will the emphasis be spiritual or practical? And even – will it be one of those events where you just feel ‘talked at’ and overwhelmed?

I needn’t have worried. Instantly welcomed and ushered towards coffee, cake and croissants, there was a relaxed feel right from the very first hour as, unhurried, we settled for the first talk on cross-cultural relationships by Dan Strange, Vice Principal of Oak Hill Theological College.

What’s your worldview?

Engaging and thought-provoking, Dan explored the ways in which our worldview governs the actions we take. While this seems obvious, many elements were surprising to me. Resistance to Jesus, for example, could exist for numerous reasons I had not considered before; Christianity is often seen as part of western culture and linked to moral decline. In addition, Christians, often less outwardly ritualistic, can seemingly lack commitment. We were encouraged to find ways to connect meaningfully with those holding differing opinions, yet be ready to sensitively challenge these views.

A smaller seminar followed. There was a choice of 5 on the day and I went to one on using the bible in English lessons. This was led by Jess who always uses the bible or biblically-based cultural materials as a basis for English classes. It was inspiring to hear that far from being off-putting to the local multi-faith community, these classes have proved enormously popular. Useful to many were the bible-based English resources available (even for beginners) and there was time to share numerous examples of material.

After a delicious and varied lunch (which was all part of the £17 ticket – great value) we were split into smaller networking groups. Attendees shared stories, encouragements and prayers, notably from a man in Birmingham who had recently started offering classes in his church which were now full:

We thought we would have to have meetings, set up policies etc. Then we decided we’d better just get on and do it. So we did.’

How to keep students talking

The final interactive talk was on how to keep students speaking in class. This was fun with concepts expertly broken down for us by teacher trainer Rachel Thake. We participated in groups, laughed a lot and came away with lively, ready-to-use class activities.

There was a noticeably friendly and unhurried atmosphere despite the clearly well-planned and choreographed day. I had time to learn, digest information, reflect, participate, pick up valuable resources and network between events.

I left the day inspired by the variety of Christians at work in their local community combining their love of Jesus with practical outreach.

The forum in Reading will, I hope, be a permanent fixture in my diary for years to come.’


Louisa Walsh from Christian TEFL attended the event in March 2015. Find out more about the English Teaching and Outreach Forum organised by two:nineteen

** New date for 2017 event: April 7th at Oak Hill College, London. **


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