Cultivate Blog

Sharing God’s Story of Hope as You Teach ESL

Nov Eslarticle3

How to Use The Story of Hope – Global English to Teach English as a Second Language

This article is intended for two groups of ESL facilitators/teachers. Group one is composed of the teachers of ESL who would like to use various features of The Story of Hope – Global English (TSOH-GE) in their ESL instruction. The second group is composed of the facilitators/teachers who plan to also use the “Teacher’s Guide for Use in Intermediate to Advanced ESL Classes for The Story of Hope Bible Study (TGUESL).” This ESL Teacher’s Guide is available as a FREE download.  

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The Story of Hope - Global English

FREE - ESL Teacher’s Guide (TGUESL)


Although I would recommend that anyone who intends to use The Story of Hope – Global English as an ESL tool acquire the Teacher’s Guide, I understand that some ESL teachers, especially those who are working with beginners, will be using TSOH-GE in a non-conventional way.  They will be taking advantage of the tools available from GoodSoil.com to enhance their presentation of the Bible to their ESL students.  For this group, the essential tools are: 

One very helpful approach for this first group is to use the beautiful artwork in the Bible’s BIG Story PowerPoint presentation or the Bible’s BIG Story printed teaching visuals to illustrate Bible stories you will prepare that are appropriate to the English experience of the student(s).  

For years I have been using the pictures as illustrations on Bible stories that I write and print for distribution to the class as the Bible lesson for that day.  Alternatively, the large teaching visuals can be used with a small group.

In teaching Latino students, I have often given the Scriptures in both English and Spanish, so that the student will be reading the Word of God in English and in their own language.  This works well for even a large group, since there is less embarrassment when repeating and reading aloud.  (The Story of Hope is available in many languages.)

Now to the second group, using copies of the Global English version of TSOH for the students, and the TGUESL as a guide. The members of this group will normally be working one on one, or with a very small group, since the interaction involved (including the question and answer format) is more intensive and personal.

The special features of TGUESL (ESL Leader’s Guide) will help the ESL presenter with the following:

  • Definitions of key vocabulary words. This feature is important because it is better to define some of the vocabulary contextually rather than risking inappropriate dictionary definitions.
  • Explanation of grammatical structures and ideas to teach/review them. Grammar is often most easily grasped if it is learned naturally, in the context of speech or a written text.
  • Clarification of cultural items (if applicable). Often neither the teacher nor the student is fully aware of the cultural context of the biblical stories, so these hints serve as a “manners and customs” guide to the stories in TSOH.
  • Idioms of interest to students.  While teaching English in Japan, I found that the students were always interested in idioms and figures of speech.  These can be challenging when heard in ordinary conversation, and so they are in these lessons. This feature helps in the process of identifying these interesting aspects of language.
  • Suggestion for use of the pictures as tools for discussion and writing practice. The pictures are often striking, and they tell the story at a glance, but they also serve as teaching “props” in that the teacher can ask questions about, and the students can give their responses to, elements of the picture before them.

Even if the leader in the study is not an experienced ESL teacher, the helps will enable her to approach each Bible story with confidence, and with enough additional information at her fingertips to enable her to turn each lesson into a language study enriched Bible lesson. Since vocabulary, speech, reading, and grammar are all necessary parts of an ESL program, the use of TSOH and TGUESL together will provide all of them in a mentally and spiritually challenging way.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage teachers, facilitators, presenters, and witnesses in either group to use The Story of Hope, and the other tools I have mentioned, to open the eyes of new English speakers to the Bible as both a lively source of the English language, and a living source of truth that will challenge their worldview and present the biblical worldview and God’s plan of redemption.  In my experience of working with students of the English language both in Japan and in the United States, I have found that those who are excited about learning English and tolerant of learning the Bible frequently come to the conclusion that it is the study of the Bible that has interested them most. As a result of that interest, they have not only learned English, but they have come to know The Word, the Savior.  

-Dr. Jim Ruff


Learn More About Using Good Soil Training and Resources for ESL Ministry by visiting our ESL Good Soil Web Page.

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