On Teaching English

Westminster has a program that sets it apart from other seminaries: it teaches English to prospective students. I have found that the students I speak to have chosen Westminster over Gordon-Conwell or RTS Jackson, for example, because of this program. (Of course, I’m only asking students who opted to come here. The program is a four year old program, or so, and I teach one of its classes.)

The students Westminster accepts are upper intermediate. They tend to plateau in learning at that level because they have a working competency. For most purposes, it is enough. But arduous theological training requires more advanced mastery. The program exists to get them to a required minimum for admission to the theological degrees. That’s a TEFL score of 88.

We often think of this kind of learning as something that will benefit the student. Roger Scruton, however, reminds us that such thinking is an educational heresy. Education does not exist to benefit the individual student but exists to transmit from one generation to another a body of knowledge. The English language is a glorious body of knowledge in which many treasures of Christian theology are stored. Transmitting this body of knowledge is important for Christian purposes and will remain so for centuries.

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