Hannah Davies shares her experience of English teaching and mission in the UK
‘I’ve always loved travel and meeting people from different cultures and so I took a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course. I hoped this would be the first step on the road to international adventure. Little did I know that God had something far more exciting planned for me closer to home.
Shortly after my TEFL course, I volunteered at a church based café for female internationals. The idea behind the café was to offer friendship, support and a friendly face to visitors and foreign expats. Here I met Yuko, a South Korean pharmacist who needed to improve her English and so I started teaching her 1-1. She would come to my home or we’d meet at the local chemist to discuss the medicine on display. I wasn’t sure what to charge for lessons but after some investigation, I settled on £15 per hour; a fairly modest fee but one I felt comfortable with as a new teacher. Creating meaningful lessons, getting to know Yuko and seeing her English improve was incredibly rewarding – but the best was yet to come. During a lesson I’d prepared on Easter, I was able to explain why Easter is celebrated and who Jesus is. Yuko was immediately interested and when I suggested we started a regular bible study, she was keen and even invited friends.
Our international bible study
To my surprise, we sometimes had as many as 8 ladies, mostly from Asian backgrounds, attend. I certainly hadn’t envisaged this when I first attended the information café! While for some the motivation may only have been to improve their English, it didn’t matter; it was still a God-given opportunity to open the bible with people who’d never heard the Good News. For the bible study, of course, I didn’t charge and I hope this in itself was a witness.
Challenges and triumphs
Despite the varying backgrounds and beliefs, the biggest challenge in our studies was not God’s word – most were genuinely receptive – but the varying levels of English. I got around this by emailing them the passage in advance so they could look it up in their own language before the study. Together we all used a simple English bible translation to look at passages in Genesis and the New Testament. My TEFL training helped enormously to explain difficult concepts, check comprehension and I used a variety of TEFL techniques to ensure we got the most out of our time together.
Many were eager to know about Jesus and what His life, death and resurrection means for us today. For others, this was simply an early seed sown. A particularly memorable moment was when a Japanese lady asked if she could lead us in a prayer to God. It was wonderful to hear. Most have returned to their home countries now but I do keep in touch with a few by Skype and I know that at least one lady attends a good Christian church in South Korea. Praise God!
It is awesome how God has used my interests and TEFL skills to further the Kingdom. While Yuko and her friends came to me this time, there is a whole world keen to learn English and who need to know Jesus. For me, this experience is only the beginning.’
Hannah Davies is a committed Christian, acclaimed artist and trained EFL teacher. She also teaches English via Skype.
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