International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching


language policy, church-sponsored ESL, proselytization, faith and ESL, community-based ESOL


The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine language policy in privately funded church-sponsored adult English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in the United States. Specifically, this study focuses on one church and how its policy prohibiting proselytization in the classroom is interpreted by its volunteer instructors. The aim of this study is not to critique the success or failure of these policies but instead attempt to observe, describe, and report the spectrum of resistance and acceptance of restrictions (indeed, if it is perceived as such) on the types of language permitted to be used in ESL classrooms. Findings show that volunteers have different interpretations about how the Christian faith should or should not be integrated into curriculum. These beliefs stem from their theological interpretations about religious conversion as well as the volunteers’ self-reported depth of religious beliefs. No evidence of proselytization or religious activities was observed, showing that this locally-created policy was effective in its goal of separating the teaching of faith and language during ESL classes. This is significant because it represents, to date, the only example of the impact of explicit language policies studied in adult ESL church-sponsored programs.



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