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Teaching English as a Missionary Language

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on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of Teaching English as a Missionary Language

ELT: 'a gold mine rich with opportunity'
Christianity seen as "the language of the Bible" (Read, 1849, p.48, cited in Bailey, 1991, p.116)
Bait for luring individuals
Scale of TEML seen in a simple websearch: The Mission Finder.org (2002)
CB International, Educational Resources & Referrals -China, Frontiers, Interserve, Japan English Centers Ministry, TEAM, Vision International Alliance
Candidness of intentions
Ethical concerns
view of English as a means to an end
'You Don't Learn Swimming from a Fish'
Correlation between lack of qualifications and 'native speaker' preference
Tom Scovel, "proclaimed concern at such emphasis on evangelism over education, and on native speaker abilities over trained teachers, arguing that 'you don't learn swimming from a fish' (cited in Tennant, 2002)
ELT education for missionary teachers: William Carey International University, King's College, Azusa Pacific University, and Wheaton College.
Offers training on more than just missionary work, yet little material for reflection on their practices.
'When People Are Poor, God Is Robbed of Pleasure'
Mission work has always been entwined with larger political and economic goals
"From the time Christ's early followers first set out 'to disciple the nations', missionary work has been a political project. The European conquest of Latin America and Africa could not have been accomplished without missionaries ready to legitimize and soothe the bitterness of colonial subjugation." (Diamond, 1989, p.205)
Christians message went from acceptance of God's will, to Marxist-based theology, to 'gospel of prosperity'.
'English as Christian Service
Two main approaches to TEML:
Conservative Evangelical: teaching for missionary purposes
Liberal Christian Service: teaching as missionary purpose
Snow (2001) summarizes the Christian service standpoint
Emphasis on disclosure and quality of work

"Teaching English as a Missionary Language"
Alastair Pennycook, Sophie Coutand-Marin

"Unless we engage in debate over the various moral projects tied up with English language teaching, we argue, educators will be unable to establish the grounds for our choices between missionary, liberal or critical projects." (p.337)

New concerns
Scale of missionary involvement in ELT
Connection between TEML and global politics
Issue of trust and disclosure
Support for global spread of English through TEML

Christian Evangelical Position
Christian Service Position
Liberal Agnostic Position
Secular Humanist Position
Critical Pedagogical Position
"By recognizing escalating demand for knowledge of the English language, the staff at Christian Outreach International has discovered a gold mine rich with mission opportunity...as your students come to trust you as their English instructor, the door is open for sharing your faith and the Gospel. Each semester many lost souls come to know the Lord."
Christian Outreach International,
"Start an evangelical church in Poland, and no one will come. Start an English school, and you'll make many friends."
Tennant, 2002
"English teachers are a double-edged sword in the mission field because of their great demand and their mobility. The demand is strong worldwide for native English speakers to teach nationals and many students are eager to befriend their American teachers. The demand also enables English teachers to enter countries that would otherwise be closed to Christians, interact intimately with the locals and witness Christ's grace and love through lifestyle evangelicalism."
Vision International Alliance
Rick Love (International Director of Frontiers) is paraphrased by Pennycook and Coutand-Marin to explain, "once you've developed trust, then it's time to gain new believers. But teachers should be careful not to reveal their true purpose too quickly."
" For Christians in mission, English teaching can and should be much more than an opportunity to gain access to closed nations for evangelistic purposes, or a form of social work only incidentally carried out by Christians. It can be an opportunity to bear witness, to minister, to serve the disadvantaged, to contribute toward peace between people of different cultures, and even to build better relations between different branches of the church universal. Looked at in these ways, English teaching can be more than a secular job that serves as a means to other ends- English teaching itself becomes a form of Christian mission." (2001, pp.176-177).
Same Goal?
Disingenuous: evangelicals create false trust in order to then convert, but service oriented 'highlight social salvation through ELT' (348) although spiritual salvation is still the ultimate goal.

Evangelical Missionary Stance
'Triumphalist position' on the spread of English on a global level, for his gives them access to an enlarged number of possible converts
No material reviewed by Pennycook or Coutand-Marin questioned the 'escalating demand for knowledge of the English language' (p.347)
Christian Service Position
English is viewed as fulfilling the needs of those being taught
Solution to global inequalities?
When ELT becomes a form of Christian service it is 'too easy for the promotion of ELT to be driven by missionary fervor rather than educational need.'(p.348)
Bruthiaux arues, "For deeply poor populations in many countries, education of the most basic type remains a pipe dream, and English language education an outlandish irrelevance. In a world where, it is said, half the population has never made a telephone call, talk of a role for English language education in facilitating the process of poverty reduction and a major allocation of public resources to that end is likely to prove misguided and wasteful. (2002, pp. 292-293)
" While the service position suggests that all CET's should be open about their work, it remains at heart a continuation of the colonial attitude to the non-believing Other." (p.348)
View on the global spread of English
'Whose Ethics Are We Talking about?'
Haynes (1996) - this 'American-promoted' doctrine was initially 'a decidedly non-spiritual concern: the promotion and pursuit of America's anti-communist foreign-policy goals' (p.226).
God's message becomes entwined with 'current globalizing force of neoliberal ideology' (Hardt & Negri, 2000)
Prosperity Gospel implies participation in global capitalism evinces a Christian way of life
Alliance between English, capital, and Christianity

Political acquiescence - 'Stop the Revolution'
CIA and missionary tie - State Department's Agency for International Development

" as the US turns further and further away from its supposed separation of church and state, and instead embeds fundamentalist right-wing Christian doctrine as part of both internal and external policy, the role of Christian missionaries becomes indelibly tied to the promotion of a particular version of money, religion and politics, and the foreign policy of the US becomes tied to a particular vision of Christian expansion."
Globalization, neoliberal values, and capitalist accumulation - celebrated as a part of the missionary message (p.345)
English is already associated with modernity, development, and prosperity....to package 'English, Christianity, neoliberalism, and wealth has even more insidious implications." (p.346)
"According to the ideas associated with the 'gospel of prosperity', it is only right and proper - indeed, it is God's will, that those who deserve it achieve earthly prosperity. Poverty, illness, poor health, and other misfortune are sure signs of sin, of a lack of true Christian commitment, and God's signal that he is aware of an individual's personal shortcomings. It follows in this line of reasoning, that the most devoted Christian is the most wealthy; the sight of a millionaire preacher addressing a sermon to a prosperous congregation is a material justification of such beliefs." (Haynes, 1996, p.225)
'Traditional family values'
George W. Bush and John Ashcroft - 'Christian Right ha never been so close to power as it is under the bible-brandishing regime of George W. Bush.' (New Internationalist, 2002, p.29)
Edge (1996) has identified covert Christian agendas as 'utterly repellent' vs. Stevick's (1996/97) distinction between 'force' and 'free market'
Critical practitioners and CET both employ a 'transformative pedagogy' - How can you distinguish between social change and conversion? How can you say one political agenda is right and one is wrong? Isn't this just personal and political preference?

Henry Widdowson (2001):
"Whose ethics are we talking about? Whose morals? And how can you tell a worthy cause from an unworthy one? Critical people, like missionaries, seem to be fairly confident that they have identified what is good for other people on he basis of their own beliefs. But my making a virtue of the necessity of partiality we in effect deny plurality and impose our own version of reality, thereby exercising the power of authority which we claim to deplore." (p.15)
Ethical Practice and ELT
Broad view of guiding ethics:
Gee (1993) and Corson (1997)
1 - Respect for all person's (if it would cause harm, it is reason to not do it)
2- Equality
3 - Benefit of Maximisation
More specific and focused situated ethics?
'Based on trust and disclosure, respect for others, political contexts, and ethical options' (p.350)
1 - Trust
Undeniable ethical concern with concealment of purpose, so if critical practitioners want to be distinguished from EML teachers they much embrace an ethics of disclosure (p. 350)
2 - Respect
3 - Politics
Critical ELT is committed to 3 main concerns politically: disparity, difference, and desire
TEML's : conformity, conservatism, and coercion
4 - Ethics
Religious thinking promotes 'prior moral absolutism' (p. 351), which silences discussion and intellectual engagement
'If forms of critical pedagogy are promoted only as regurgitated political dogma, they are as indefensible ethically as forms of TEML: critical approaches to language education need to engage ethically.' (p. 351)
4 argument for a particular form of pedagogical and political engagement over TEML practices
Critical approach must 'start from a position of respect and engagement with the students' cultures and ideas
Auerbach (1995) - Participatory action research
To distinguish from missionary pedagogy, critical practitioners must consider i ts 'modes of engagement very seriously.' (p.351)
What to do?
Need to engage in a debate over the concerns of:
how ELT is promoting certain positions
ethics of critical pedagogy and literacy

If we do not debate we will be left with:
Critical Left
Believes in 'own political rectitude'
Religious Right
Believes in the 'God-given agenda'
Large Liberal
Believes this can all be kept out of the
Bailey, R. (1991). Images of English: a cultural history of the language. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Bruthiaux, P. (2002). Hold your course: language education, language choice, and economic development. TESOL Quarterly, 36(3), p. 275-296.
Christian Outreach International. (2002). (8 May 2002) <http://www.coiusa.com/esl/eng-index.htm>
Christian Television. (2002). (accessed 15 April 2002) <http://www.cta.asn.au/pages/christianity.html>
Diamond, S. (1989). Spiritual Warfare. London: Pluto Press.
Mission Finder.Org(2002). (accessed 28 August 2002) <http://mfinder.org/tesol.html>
Edge, J. (1996). Keeping the Faith. TESOL Matters, 6(4), p.1, 23.
Haynes, J. (1996). Religion and Politics in Africa. London: Zed.
Hardt, M. & Negri, A. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
New Internationalist (2002). Josh Ashcroft (July, #347, p.29).
Snow, D. (2001). English Teaching as Christian Mission. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press.
Stevick, E. (1996/97). Letter. TESOL Matters, 6(6), p.6.
Tennant, A. (2002). (accessed 12 June 2003). The ultimate language lesson: teaching English may well be the 21st century most promising way to take the Good News to the world, <http://www.christianity-today.com/ct/2002/013/1.32.html>.
Vision International Alliance. (2002). (accessed 29 August 2002). <http://www.viamission.org/teach/>
Widdowson, H.G. (2001). Coming to terms with reality: applied linguistics in perspective, In D. Graddol (Ed.) Applied Linguistics for the 21st Century, AILA Review, 14, p.2-17.
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