More Information
ISBN: 9781783682881
Imprint: Langham Global Library
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 15
Publication Date: 31/08/2017
Pages: 274
Language: English

Thinking Theologically about Language Teaching

Christian Perspectives on an Educational Calling


Christians can often overlook the need to bring their daily vocations in accord with the reality created, sustained, and purposed through Christ. This is no less true for language teachers, who find themselves at a difficult interdisciplinary crossroads where the paths of linguistics, culture and education merge. This challenge should not discourage these educators, but instead aid them in their journey to form a pedagogy rooted in theological truths from Scripture, one that provides a nuanced approach that glorifies God in a manner specific to the language classroom.

The contributors of this book outline why and how theology must inform teaching methods so that Christian language educators might better serve their students with both faith and excellence, thereby pointing them to the communicative God whose image they bear.

Author Bios

Cheri L. Pierson
(Edited By)

Cheri L. Pierson has a Doctorate in Education from Northern Illinois University, USA, and is an associate professor at Wheaton Graduate School. She specializes in teacher education, methodology and English for specific purposes. She is the author of several books including Dictionary of Theological Terms in Simplified English: Student Workbook and Exploring Theological English.

Will Bankston
(Edited By)

WILL BANKSTON is completing an MDiv and MA in Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, USA. He holds an MA in Intercultural Studies and TESOL from Wheaton Graduate School, USA, and serves with an educational NGO teaching at universities in Southeast Asia. His writing investigates relationships between theology, language, culture and education, and he co-authored Exploring Parables in Luke.


The essays in this volume bring out critical issues for Christian English language teachers to consider – from biblical foundations for language teaching, to creative interactions with language theory, to reflections on biblical methodology and pedagogy, to a theological ground for dialogue. If you are a Christian involved in language teaching, let me put it tersely: please read this book.

Pierce Taylor Hibbs
Associate Director for Theological Curriculum and Instruction,
Westminster Theological Seminary

This volume will challenge Christian readers to grapple with how our faith commitment both reflects and is reflected in our language teaching, and should be required reading for anyone who is a committed Christian and is called to language teaching.

Jan Edwards Dormer
Author and Associate Professor of TESOL,
Messiah College

The contributors to this volume provide Christian teachers with ideas that are both theological and practical, informed by their rich experience around the world. This book will help readers in the field of language teaching discern their calling, choose methods, design materials, write lesson plans, manage their classrooms, and more.

Kitty Purgason
Author and Professor of Applied Linguistics and TESOL,
Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Introduction
  3. Section I – Our Content: Theology and Language
    1. 1 Biblical Themes for Christians in Language Teaching
      1. Michael Lessard-Clouston
    2. 2 Equipping Students to Read Theology with Discernment
      1. Karin Spiecker Stetina
    3. 3 Using Words to Change the World: Wittgenstein and the Communication of Life
      1. Will Bankston
  4. Section II – Our Calling: Theology and the Teacher
    1. 4 Seeing Clearly: My Role as a Humble, Worshiping Educator
      1. Kaylene Powell
    2. 5 Imitating the Humility of Christ in Language Teaching
      1. Bradley Baurain
    3. 6 Transformational Teaching: Engaging in a Pneumatic Teaching Praxis
      1. Robert L. Gallagher
  5. Section III – Our Classroom: Theology and Practice
    1. 7 Exploring Method as Metaphor: A Historical Perspective for Second Language Educators
      1. Cheri Pierson
    2. 8 Managing Twenty-First-Century Classes Biblically
      1. Marilyn Lewis
    3. 9 Dialogue, Divinity, and Deciphering the Self: Calling Out God’s Image in the Language Classroom
      1. Will Bankston
    4. 10 Yahweh’s Taxonomy of the Deeper Dimensions
      1. Melissa Smith
  6. Contributors


Bradley Baurain

BRADLEY BAURAIN (PhD, University of Nebraska) has taught for twenty-five years in the United States, Canada, China, and Vietnam. He is currently leading the graduate-level TESOL program at Moody Theological Seminary and Graduate School in Chicago. He is the author of Religious Faith and Teacher Knowledge in English Language Teaching (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2015), as well as co-editor of Multilevel and Diverse Classrooms (a volume in TESOL’s Classroom Practice series 2010) and Voices, Identities, Negotiations, and Conflicts: Writing Academic English Across Cultures (Emerald 2011). He has published articles in journals including TESOL Journal, the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, ELT Journal, and the Journal of Aesthetic Education, and serves on the Editorial Review Board of the International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching. His interests include teacher development, narrative inquiry, and literature in language education.

Robert L. Gallagher

ROBERT L. GALLAGHER (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the department chair and director of the Master of Arts program in intercultural studies, and associate professor of intercultural studies at Wheaton College Graduate School in Chicago where he has taught since 1998. He previously served as the president of the American Society of Missiology (2010–2011), and as an executive pastor in Australia (1979–1990), as well as being involved in theological education in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific since 1984. His publications include co-editing Footprints of God: A Narrative Theology of Mission (MARC 1999), Mission in Acts: Ancient Narratives in Contemporary Contexts (Orbis Books 2004), Landmark Essays in Mission and World Christianity (Orbis Books 2009), and Contemporary Mission Theology: Engaging the Nations (Orbis Books 2017), together with co-authoring Encountering the History of Missions: From the Early Church to Today (Baker Academic 2017).

Michael Lessard-Clouston

MICHAEL LESSARD-CLOUSTON (PhD, OISE/University of Toronto) is a professor of applied linguistics and TESOL in the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University in La Mirada, California, where he directs the MA in Applied Linguistics and teaches in its on campus and online MA TESOL programs. He has taught ESL/EFL and done teacher training in Canada, China, Indonesia, and Japan, and his research has appeared in publications such as the Canadian Modern Language Review, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Language, Culture and Curriculum, NECTFL Review, TESL Canada Journal, and TESL Reporter. He is also author of Teaching Vocabulary (TESOL 2013) and founding editor of the International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching. His research interests include corpus linguistics, intercultural communication, second-language acquisition, and vocabulary learning and teaching. His current writing project is a short book on second- language acquisition applied to English language teaching.

Marilyn Lewis

MARILYN LEWIS, formerly of the University of Auckland, continues her interest in language teaching and learning through workshops in New Zealand and Asia and through writing. Her quali cations are an MA and a Diploma in Teaching (New Zealand), Licence de Lettres (University of Besançon, France) and a Graduate Diploma in Theology (Bryntirion College – Evangelical School of Theology, Wales).

Kaylene Powell

KAYLENE POWELL (MA TESOL and Intercultural Studies, Wheaton College Graduate School) resides in eastern Nebraska where she works as a writing consultant, adult ESL instructor, editor, author, and tutor. She served with an educational NGO for twelve years, just over eight of those years as an EFL teacher and teacher trainer-mentor in three different regions of mainland China. She has also instructed students from a wide variety of other countries in American ESL settings. In addition to writing academically and developing curriculum, she is also an author of both poetry and fiction.

Melissa K. Smith

MELISSA K. SMTH (PhD, University of Illinois) has lived in China for eighteen years. In addition to teaching part-time at Ningxia University, she runs LEAPAsia, a non-profit educational organization that supports teachers, encourages students and school children, and donates books to schools. She enjoys learning from other teachers and their mentors as she supports the professional development of both. As a teacher educator, she created and contributes to the blog, Master Teaching, which focuses on the integration of profession and faith.

Karin Spiecker Stetina

KARIN SPIECKER STETINA (PhD, Marquette University) is an associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. She is passionate about teaching theology that is aimed at loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourself (Mark 12:30–31). She seeks to relate theology to following Christ in daily life. She taught theology and church history for nearly twenty years at Wheaton College and at various churches. She has been a consultant and an associate editor for Luther Digest. Her research interests include Reformation Theology and the theology of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Jonathan Edwards, as well as the theology of education and reading theology with discernment. She has published numerous books and articles.

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