ESL Ministry of New City East Lake Chattanooga, Tennessee

Teacher Becky with her students studying from     Tried and True ESL Lessons Advanced Vocabulary

Teacher Becky with her students studying from Tried and True ESL Lessons Advanced Vocabulary

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting the ESL ministry of New City East Lake in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  This wonderful ministry has just started using Tried and True ESL Lessons Advanced Vocabulary for their advanced class.  We did an introduction to the Tried and True ESL Lessons curriculum for their teachers who will implement the curriculum later this year. 

The staff was delightful and warm and the students were responsive to the teachers’ obvious love for them. 

To me, it’s always amazing how God brings together a diversity of individuals with a variety of gifts and experiences to work as a team reaching out to internationals.  New City East Lake is a prime example of this fact.  Their director, Eunice, is from Alcapulco, Mexico.  She works tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the teachers and staff have all they need for success.  She is also a fabulous cook and prepares many meals for special cultural exchange events with the students.  Eunice sees herself as a bridge for the students as she interprets the North American culture for them in many confusing situations.

One of the teaching assistants is Carolyn, a mature woman nearing her 80's who brings a huge heart to the students and an attitude of service as she willingly fills in wherever she is most needed.  She truly understands the importance of being whatever the students need to help them learn.  For example, she recently found herself sitting on the floor with maps of Chattanooga surrounding her and eager ESL students “driving” toy cars along the maps following her directions.

There’s a young woman named Sarah who is a basketball coach for a college located in Chattanooga.  She strives to also step into the students’ world by seeking to learn their first language in order to better communicate with and understand those whom she is helping to master the English language.

     Carl and Becky

    Carl and Becky

Two couples work together in the ESL ministry and bring a variety of experiences to the table.  First, there’s Jeremiah and Amy.  Jeremiah is from the U.S. while Amy is Chinese from Canada.  They met while teaching English in China.  They bring a sweet spirit and patience to their students, as well as a first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live in a country not one’s own.  The second couple is Becky and Carl, both from the U.S.  They’ve lived almost 20 years in various European countries where they learned to teach ESL by jumping in with both feet and doing it!  Becky teaches the most advanced class.  Her students obviously love and respect her.  They seemed willing to open up enthusiastically in conversation.  Students also responded well to her leadership in the class. There are many other faithful teachers and staff at New City East Lake working tirelessly among the students.  These are just a few of the ones we had the privilege to get to know during our visit.

Ricardo with Barbara and Bernie

Ricardo with Barbara and Bernie

One student also stood out to us as we had the privilege of engaging in extensive conversation with him.  Ricardo is from Guatemala.  He’s been in the U.S. some time now and working with a family member.  He was very enthusiastic in class volunteering to answer questions and speak.  After class he shared with us that his goal is to become an ESL teacher himself.  He is working towards that goal by completing his high school education this year. 

So, if you are near Chattanooga, Tennessee, or know of internationals moving to that area, I can highly recommend the ESL ministry at New City East Lake Church. 

If your ministry is using Tried and True ESL Lessons or would like to know more about Tried and True ESL Lessons curriculum, contact us on the website and we’ll see about scheduling a visit.

Spanish Pastors Experience ESL Class

Behind every successful faith-based ESL ministry is a pastor who understands and embraces the unique outreach qualities of ESL.  Too often I meet with ESL ministry directors who share their concern that their ESL ministry is not appreciated for its vital role in the overall outreach of a church’s programming.  More likely than not, the ESL ministry is simply not fully understood by the church leadership.  So, whenever I am invited to do an ESL Awareness Conference, my first enquiry is, “How many pastors and church leaders will attend?” 

            A few months back I received a call from Pastor David Leiva from Iglesia Bautista Estrella de Belen Norte.  Pastor David asked if I’d come teach his Aunt Gloria how to conduct an ESL ministry.  After much conversation, it was agreed that I’d lead an ESL workshop in his church, provided he had 10 participants to attend. 

            Pastor David became very excited about the ESL ministry possibility and he subsequently invited me to present an Awareness Conference for 10 more Spanish language pastors in South Florida.  Wow!  That’s quite an honor for me. 

            On the day, we demonstrated a typical ESL ministry by having the pastors return to the classroom as ESL students for a first-hand look at what an ESL class is really like.  They enthusiastically participated.  Judging by the looks on their faces, I believe they enjoyed the games practicing the language the most!  The final activity of the demonstration lesson was to work as a team to put the pieces of a scripture verse into correct order.  Suddenly, the light switched on for these servants of God as they saw the potential for ministry outreach through the ESL ministry. 

            When we held the ESL Workshop just 4 weeks later, 10 individuals from 4 different churches attended.  We’re looking forward to seeing what new ESL ministries open in this community. 

            To schedule an ESL training workshop for your church, contact us here. 

Pastors Awareness Conference (1).jpg

Pastors work together to put the scrambled pieces of a Scripture verse into correct order.

Making ESL Real - How the ESL Ministry at FBC Pine Castle, Florida Does It

FBC Pine Castle was one of the first churches to begin using Tried and True ESL Lessons in the Fall of 2016.  They used Level 1 Beginner, and Level 2 High Beginner. 

ESL class.jpg

Students loved the lesson on ordering at the Deli.  One teacher had gone to a supermarket deli just before class and bought the items that were to be introduced in the vocabulary including roast beef and cheese in thick and thin slices.  So in addition to the photographs in Tried and True ESL Lessons, the teacher had the actual food items in the classroom as illustrations.  Students read the labels and weighed the items on a kitchen scale and learned the difference between thick slices and thin slices.  After using the deli items to teach the vocabulary, out came the crackers and Hawaiian rolls and students got to literally ‘eat their words!’

A few months later, Pine Castle ministry director, Louise French, made ESL real again.  After teaching the lesson titled, Staying Well, to her high beginners from Level 2, Book A, Louise brought in homemade chicken soup in a crock pot.  As students arrived to class, she greeted them with a cup of the homemade goodness.  It was served along with hot tea and lemon, which is one of the remedies suggested for a cold in the Staying Well lesson.

Tried and True being used at FBC Pine Castle, Florida

Tried and True being used at FBC Pine Castle, Florida

In addition to teaching, Louise also wears the director hat.  When she asked her teachers and students how they liked Tried and True ESL Lessons, she got loads of favorable feedback. 

Teachers liked the concise format designed specifically for the needs of the faith-based ESL program packed with practical content that doesn’t overwhelm either the volunteer teacher or student with excess material.   Teachers also appreciated the larger print format of Tried and True ESL Lessons.  The unanimous result was, “We want to continue!”

Louise and her teachers reach out to their students in friendship in many ways.  Here’s two practical ways they are making ESL real:

1.  Reading Glasses.  Every time Louise goes to the local dollar store, she picks up a couple of pairs of reading glasses.  She has a basket full of glasses available to students who may need a little help to see their books or the board more clearly. 

2.  Prayer Partners.  Students are given an opportunity to have one person pray for them every day during the semester.  Louise has solicited prayer partners from her church members who commit to pray for three months for one student.  Louise prayerfully matches each ESL student with a willing volunteer from the church.  They have a special meeting time at the beginning of the semester where prayers meet the students for whom they will be praying. 

So, that’s just a few of the practical ways First Baptist Church of Pine Castle, Florida, has been making ESL real for their students since 1985.  May they have many more years of fruitful ESL classes.

New ESL Classes Begin

First meeting of ESL class at Christian Family Chapel, Jacksonville, FL

First meeting of ESL class at Christian Family Chapel, Jacksonville, FL

Wendy Graves Story

            Recently, I got this e-mail from Wendy Graves, Director of Missions for Christian Family Chapel in Jacksonville, Florida:  “Cathy Lentz trained 10 people at our church this weekend as we look forward to starting a pilot class for ESL in our church.  She mentioned Tried and True ESL Lessons and we would be excited to use that as the curriculum for our pilot class.”

            These are the kinds of e-mails I love to receive—churches excited about getting involved in ESL ministry.  After 17 years of leading the 11-hour ESL Training Workshop for many churches, I’ve had the privilege of seeing lots of ESL ministries start.  At the same time, I’ve also seen some ministries struggle.  Upon investigation, the struggle is often because volunteer teachers find it challenging to write viable weekly ESL lesson plans.  This is one of the main reasons Tried and True ESL Lessons and Tried and True ESL Lessons Time Saving Lesson Plans for Instructors was created—to eliminate the struggle many experience in writing ESL lesson plans. 

            Four weeks after Wendy’s first e-mail to me, I received an update:  “Hello from lovely Florida.  Well, it’s done—registration and placement interviews and 125 students!  We are starting this week!”  Wendy chose Tried and True ESL Lessons for her new ESL ministry and the anticipated 125 students.  I look forward to reports of success from this new ministry. 

First Tried and True Users

Pictured above in banner: Heidi and Kendra of First Baptist Church, Fort Mill, SC

Tried and True ESL Lessons was released for publication one volume at a time.  After the first volume hit the market, and before any further books were published, I received this e-mail from Kendra Martin, a volunteer teacher at First Baptist Church Fort Mill, South Carolina: 

“Reading the introduction to your book [Tried and True ESL Lessons Level 1] was like reading the story of my personal ESL teaching experience. I signed up for the training to teach ESL, assuming that I'd be teaching a curriculum similar to Sunday School--neatly planned out by someone--ready for me to implement. Of course, that was not the case. I had already agreed to teach the beginner level with another volunteer, Heidi, when we learned that WE would be responsible for writing our own lesson plans.  Well, we pulled things together and muddled though, falling in love with our students as we went along. Although difficult, we made our lesson plans and were doing well until Heidi became ill leaving me on my own for several consecutive weeks. I was ready to give up teaching because the planning and prep had become overwhelmingly stressful and time consuming, but I could hardly bear the thought of deserting my students. During that stressful time is when I found Tried and True ESL Lessons. I don't believe in coincidences; I believe God led me to just the right Google search to bring them up on Amazon. I think in desperation, I searched, "beginner ESL complete lesson plans" or something similar.  I can hardly believe how well these will suit our needs in the beginner class. The teachers of the other levels are anxious to see level 2 and beyond!”

            -- Kendra Martin, Volunteer Teacher, First Baptist Church Fort Mill, South Carolina