Oh, But You’re Not a REAL Teacher

Sometimes when I tell people what I do for a living – teach English to speakers of other languages (ESL) in other countries – they start using words like travel and adventure. Maybe some of that comes from a long history of young adults backpacking through Europe or Asia earning a little spending money here and there “teaching” English to the locals. Throughout the various conversations, one thing is fairly clear: they don’t consider what I do a real job or teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) to be real teaching.

Even in the teaching world, at least in the United States, there’s a clear line drawn between those of us who teach English as a language and other teachers. REAL teachers teach general education subjects like math, science, social studies, what is often called “English/Language Arts,” and even foreign languages like Spanish or French. Teaching English to speakers of other languages – like special education – isn’t real teaching and those of us who teach ESL/EFL aren’t real teachers. I’ve even heard some teachers say that special education teachers aren’t real teachers either and have seen ESL/EFL lumped into the same category as special education – as something different from, and therefore inferior to, teaching subjects in a general education classroom.

I admit that teaching a language is different from teaching general education subjects. In general education subjects, students are learning about a subject. They’re not learning skills that will help them to communicate with others. Our goal as language teachers is to help students become proficient in using a particular language to communicate with others who speak that language – whether in a country where that language is the native language or in a country where that language is a “foreign” one. We’re not teaching about language as if we were teaching a linguistics course at university, we’re teaching language and are working to help students become proficient in using that language. We deal in such concepts as second language acquisition and fluency. We use real teaching methodologies. Oh, but we’re not REAL teachers.

Even in some foreign countries there seems to be some misunderstanding about the nature of teaching a language – often even among people who employ language teachers and the governments that grant us our work visas. There are language schools that hire native speakers of the target language (e.g. native Anglophones for English language schools), believing (rightly, in my opinion) that there is some value in having students learn a foreign language from a native speaker of that language. (As a Spanish language learner, I can tell you that I learned more from native Spanish speakers than from the non-native speakers through whom I endured three years of junior high school Spanish).

However, some of these language schools want the native speakers to be nothing more than what I call “language monkeys” – native speakers who are hired essentially to entertain the students and to be paraded around in front of VIPs (some of whom provide funding for the school) – while the real language teaching is done by local teachers, some of whom are themselves only a little more proficient in the language than their students. Some foreign governments, not really having a clue about Western university degrees, are now starting to require English language teachers to have degrees in English, even though English degrees really have nothing to do with English language acquisition or teaching. There’s a clear misunderstanding about the nature of language teaching and what those who teach language need to know before we can presume to teach others.

I’m a language teacher and as much a teacher as those who teach general education subjects. I help students become proficient in a language that is not their own. I’m not half-way around the world from my home country having an adventure. I’m not here to entertain and to regale students with stories of life in America. I gave up the comforts of home and chose to live in a country and culture that is not my own because I believe in the importance of non-Anglophones learning English in a global economy (and of native Anglophones learning another language, but that’s a discussion for another day). I believe in the work I’m doing, the example I’m setting and their positive contribution to the lives of my students (and, yes, positive contribution to the collective life of their country).

Why I Still Defend the Doctrine of Imputation | Parchment and Pen

Why I Still Defend the Doctrine of Imputation | Parchment and Pen. I’m very much a believer in the doctrine of imputed sin (that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed, charged to, the entire human race – that we all sinned in Adam), as that doctrine appears in Romans 5. We were in the loins of Adam when Adam sinned. Therefore, his sin is our sin and it is the guilt of his sin and the effect of his sin that renders all of us – from the moment of conception – sinners. Sin is, in effect, part of our DNA.

The Intolerance of Tolerance | Parchment and Pen

The Intolerance of Tolerance | Parchment and Pen. The author of the blog post recommends D. A. Carson’s book The Intolerance of Tolerance and explains why. The author points out a paragraph that he found particularly noteworthy, one in which Carson explains a shift from merely accepting the existence of different views to accepting the views themselves. I guess you’d have to read the book to see how the paragraph relates to the title.


In any event, I disagree that there is an acceptance of different views. As suggested in the title of Carson’s book, those who preach tolerance are really a very intolerant bunch. They insist that you accept their views, but if you hold views they deem to be “intolerant,” then you are vilified as bigoted, racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, and, well, just plain evil. You immediately become the enemy and must be silenced at all costs. They’re willing to accept the views of others as long as those views are politically correct.

An Inalienable Right to Grace?

This is an excellent illustration of grace and of how we so often take it for granted.

Reformedontheweb's Blog

By R. C. Sproul

My favorite illustration of how callous we have become with respect to the mercy, love, and grace of God comes from the second year of my teaching career, when I was given the assignment of teaching two hundred and fifty college freshman an introductory course on the Old Testament. On the first day of the class, I gave the students a syllabus and I said: “You have to write three short term papers, five pages each. The first one is due September 30 when you come to class, the second one October 30, and the third one November 30. Make sure that you have them done by the due date, because if you don’t, unless you are physically confined to the infirmary or in the hospital, or unless there is a death in the immediate family, you will get an F on that assignment. Does everybody…

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Does Irresistible Grace Make Men into Robots? | Monergism

Does Irresistible Grace Make Men into Robots? | Monergism. The argument that irresistible grace makes men into robots is made by people who think that they must have the final say, that they must be the final arbiters of their own salvation, that they must be able to veto God. These people believe themselves to be sovereign, though they would deny this despite their words and actions that prove they believe themselves to be sovereign. They insist that they have “free will” (the right to choose what they want) and that God must beg them for permission to save them. (Though they might not actually use the word “beg,” that is sometimes how they communicate their belief, i.e. that God cannot save anyone unless they give Him permission to do so).


These people insist that in order to love God, they must be free not to love God. To be free, of course, means to have rights. This isn’t about mere capacity, despite their protestations to the contrary. This is about people who have set themselves up as sovereigns, as people who have the final veto over any desire God might have to save them. Thus, God is impotent to save without their imprimatur.


Grace is irresistible and it is wonderfully so! What I mean by that is that when God regenerates one of His elect, they find Him and the gospel so wonderfully irresistible that they don’t want anything else. Men have described the experience of finding the women they later married as being “irresistible.” Since they clearly love their wives, why are these men not robots? Why are they not love-slaves to their wives that they found irresistible? Why is it that the robot argument only comes up when it comes to God’s grace being irresistible? Is it because those who use the argument really object to the idea of not being the final arbiters of their own salvation, of not having that veto power over God?

Does God Require Believers to Persevere to the End? | Monergism

Does God Require Believers to Persevere to the End? | Monergism. John Hendryx has written yet another excellent article over at Monergism.com. God both requires perseverance and causes it to happen. It’s the paradox of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

Language matters

Sometimes, language really does matter.

All Along the Watchtower

Nestorius If we are going to try to understand why the Church of the East became known as ‘Nestorian’ and what it meant by that, a note on linguistic terminology is inevitable. Here I am guided by three sources: one my co-author, Chalcedon who has lent me his notes on this; John McGuckin  Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy ; and Susan Wessels, Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy . John McGuckin’s, The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology , was also very useful. So here goes.

The Council of Constantinople, 381 defined the Trinity as one ousia in three hypostases. ‘Ousia’ is Greek for ‘substance’, ‘hypostasis’ is Greek for ‘person’ – so, the Council understood the Trinity as Three Persons in One substance. Unfortunately, both words, when translated into Latin or English can be defined as simply ‘nature’, that is a universal category, as in the nature…

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