TESOL is changing lives

Posted: June 28, 2010

By Amy Robertson

Doug Sadler. Submitted photo.

D oug Sadler, Briercrest College and Seminary’s new Applied Linguistics: TESOL instructor, has seen first-hand how learning English changes lives.

He has spent the last decade teaching English as a second language and training ESL teachers in Canada, the US, Russia, Taiwan, the Ukraine, and South Africa. He says the word “hunger” isn’t strong enough to describe how desperately people want to learn English—the language of international and business communications, tourism, and the Internet.

Sadler, who earned an MA in Training Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages from Providence Seminary in 2006, firmly believes that English language teaching is God’s work.

“It opens up the world,” he said.

“In a very real sense, the fate of students—their eventual ability to get a good job—may depend on how well they master English,” Sadler wrote in an article he published in 2006. “Likewise, the ability of a nation to compete internationally may depend on whether it has the critical mass of people with the necessary English skills.”

Sadler also points to the opportunities that TESOL provides to build relationships with people and share the Gospel. According to Sasha Volyanyk, who directs YWAM in the Ukraine, it’s on par with medicine as the most effective means of missionary outreach.

Sadler believes TESOL is God’s work for theological reasons as well.

“When we deal appropriately with language—whether teaching it or refining our abilities in it—we are touching something that is very close to the heart of God,” he wrote.

He explained that cultivating language enables people to obey the divine command to subdue the earth. To subdue the earth, we must be able to engage with culture, which requires language mastery. So when English teachers enable their students to engage effectively with culture, they’re also enabling their students to fulfill their divine calling.

“Our capacity for language and speech are part of what mark us as being made in His image and belonging to Him.”

Sadler taught several classes as an adjunct faculty member with Briercrest in 2005. He was heavily involved in ESL teaching and teacher training with YWAM, but he saw the potential for longer term training at the university level.

Based on Briercrest’s reputation and his experience here, Sadler decided that out of all the colleges and universities in North America, Briercrest would be his number-one choice for a teaching position.

“Doug’s overwhelming conviction that TESOL is ministry and that it can play a transformative role in the lives of individuals is something that resonates with the heartbeat of the program here at Briercrest,” said Dr. David Catterick, who coordinates the Applied Linguistics: TESOL program. “We warmly welcome Doug to this significant work of multiplying ministries.”

Sadler officially begins his post August 1.