University Baptist Church (UBC) is going beyond the norm in their ministry efforts.
UBC is the only church in the 76109 area code to offer English as a Second Language classes. The goal of the program is to help participants learn basic English.
“It’s a ministry of helping them function better,” Dorothy Parker, the director of the classes, said.
The ESL program focuses on teaching participants how to communicate effectively enough to accomplish day-to-day tasks.
“One teacher started out by teaching the moms how to read the prescriptions and how to take the medicines, how to call the doctor, what to say and all those kinds of practical things," Parker said. "They even talked about shopping."
Various methods of teaching are used. Singing, reading newspapers and talking about current events are a few of the ways the teachers use to help participants get more comfortable with English. Participants’ children can also benefit from the classes.
“The interesting thing is that our church also provides child care while moms and/or dads are studying, so the children are immersed in English with the other kids,” Parker said.
Parker restarted the program seven years ago after the church stopped the program.
“One day I went to the minister of missions and said, ‘You know, I have a feeling that as a university church and a community with many people from different places coming in, I think we need this, and I’m willing to try,’” Parker said.
People from all over the world participate in the program.
“One lady from Cambodia had never been to school, even in her own language,” Parker said. “Of course she spoke Cambodian because she grew up hearing it. We taught her to read, and she can answer questions and speak now.”
The classes meet on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Participants are not required to go to church services to be eligible for the classes and all materials needed are provided.
“[Participants] could be parents of people who already live here who come,” Parker said. “It’s open to anybody who wants to come. We have a good time.”