Starting an ESL School

Reaching the World at Our Doorstep

How To Start an English as a Second Language (ESL) School
See the Need

Two students in ESL ClassIf your community is like most of the communities in North America, then the ethnic composition of your city or town is rapidly changing. You are seeing a variety of ethnic faces and hearing a multitude of languages other than English.

God has brought the World to our doorstep. What marvelous news for His Church. Through the ethnic diversity of America, God has made it even easier for us to obey the Great Commission of “making disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28)

How can we, the people of God, show His love to and share His Gospel with these new neighbors? An effective way is to help them by offering free English classes.

Get your Church Leadership on Board
Go to the appropriate leadership (i.e. Mission Pastor, Mission Committee, Outreach Pastor) and share your vision of starting an ESL School in your church.

Assure them that you will “do your homework” before moving forward. This would be a good time to contact the MNA ESL Director for guidance.

Create a Prayer Base
Without prayer as the foundation, your ESL School will flounder. If your church has a regular prayer group, start asking them to pray ESL Classregularly for the creation of an ESL School in your church. Start e-mailing your friends on a regular basis with specific prayer requests regarding starting this ministry.

When we rely upon organization – we get what organization can do;

When we rely upon education – we get what education can do;

When we rely upon eloquence – we get what eloquence can do.

And so on.

But when we rely upon prayer –

We get what God can do.

Dr A. C. Dixon

Recruit Volunteers
Try to recruit a minimum of 7 people to get started. This will give you a Director and 6 teachers that could staff 3 classes (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced fluency level classes – 2 teachers per class). The more volunteers, the more classes you can offer.

Volunteers need 2 basic qualifications.

1. Love Jesus

2. Speak English

They do not need to be professional teachers and they do not need to speak another language (all of your classes will be English immersion). The ESL Teacher training will teach them everything they need to know.

Train the Volunteers
All of the volunteers you have recruited need to take a basic ESL Teacher Training Course (including the person who will be your Director).

The Southern Baptist North American Mission Board has an excellent 16-hour training that is available in all 50 states. Contact the MNA ESL Director and she will find the trainer closest to your church.

Sometimes you can send your volunteers to a training being offered at another church for $50 or less per person. Of, if need be, you can “hire” the trainer to come to your church. They usually expect an honorarium of $250 to $300. In addition, you will need to purchase a manual ($20) for each person. Trainings are usually scheduled on 2 consecutive Saturdays or Thursday night, Friday night and all-day Saturday.

Click here for a flier you can use to promote your training events.

Necessary Decisions
1. Find a place to hold the classes.

2. Determine the time and day the classes will meet (i.e. 7 pm to 9 pm on Wednesday nights)

3. Pick and order a curriculum. (The ESL Teacher training will show you many options. The MNA ESL Director can also give you guidance in this area.)

4. Decide how many classes (fluency levels) you will have and who will teach them.

Women at ESL ClassAdvertise
Create an easy English brochure to advertise your classes. Always include the time and day of your classes and a map to your church. The MNA ESL Director can send you a sample of a brochure.

Distribute your brochure to places in your community where Internationals can find them.

For example:

International Grocery Stores

Leasing offices of apartment complexes where a lot of Internationalslive

Regular Grocery Stores

Public Libraries

Dry Cleaners

Ethnic Restaurants

Western Union Offices

Click here a flier you can use to promote your ESL Classes.

Students take notes at ESL ClassStart your School
Some schools start slowly and build and others start with a bang. Either way, it’s what God has designed for you and your church. Lives will be touched; the Gospel will be proclaimed in words and deeds, and you will be a part of God’s great plan to reach the nations.

For more specific information on how to start and run an ESL School, please contact Nancy Booher, the MNA ESL Director, at or 410-465-0154.

An ESL Starter Kit is available online in both PDF and Word formats. Click here for more information. For a detailed discussion of the financial aspects of starting an ESL School, click here.

Please contact the MNA ESL Director if you start an ESL School. MNA is creating a database of all PCA ESL Schools.

Thank you.