Above: A volunteer language school teacher leads an ESL class at the Language Learning Fellowship
The Language Learning Fellowship, a ministry in Oklahoma City in the Northwest, has seen many changes in its 22 years of existence, but none like a global pandemic. After months of closure, the school is back up and running and needs new teachers to meet the demand for free language learning classes.
“When we were on a COVID break, the church was getting about 10 calls a week asking when we were going to start again,” explained Richard Collins, the school’s principal. “We tried to start again last year, but then Delta (COVID variant) hit, and we had to wait. Now we are operational again.
Collins and his wife Deborah have run the school of volunteer teachers since 1999. Over the years, the Collins have let their passion for ministry motivate them to learn Spanish and build the school.
Collins is not a full-time vocation pastor. He owns Collins Copier Service and repairs most brands of copiers and fax machines daily.
The school offers free classes on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Northwest Campus, located at 3030 NW 23rd Street in Oklahoma City. Free daycare is available and open from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
Among the most popular courses offered by the school are English as a second language (ESL) and citizenship courses. There are also courses at different levels of Spanish, Arabic and Japanese. The school offers a Biblical Hebrew course. A new addition to the school’s curriculum is a course in American Sign Language (ASL).
Another new addition to the program came not in response to the pandemic but because of global conflicts. The school has mobilized to help refugees from various places around the world.
“Our Afghan refugees learned mostly in their homes and apartments,” Collins explained. “That’s because most of them don’t have reliable transportation yet.”
Collins said language learning is the goal, but the school also seeks to advance the gospel.
“We see ourselves primarily as a seed ministry,” he said. “We have had a few people come to Christ by joining our church (Northwest) or the Spanish congregation (Northwest en Español). We also invite all of our students to join us in an easy English Bible study on Sunday mornings.
“We are always looking for people to share the gospel in about five minutes or less in each of the 13 classrooms,” Collins continued. “We love when people come to share their testimonies, or bring music, even sketches and plays. Children also hear the gospel and are also invited to VBS and other children’s programs.
“We’ll even take preachers,” laughed Collins. “They have to be ready to speak for about two and a half minutes if they don’t speak Spanish, to allow for translation.”
Collins said the school needs a few more teachers. “Right now we have a lot of English teachers,” he said, “but in the past we’ve offered Korean, French, and Mandarin. But we don’t have teachers for those. (languages) at the moment.
When it comes to teacher qualifications, Collins said the biggest requirement was a heart willing to help others.
“We have teachers who have degrees and experience in ESL, and some who learn as they go,” Collins explained. “We have a curriculum available and some of our teachers are doing their own. It is extremely informal and flexible. The main quality is a willing heart.
For more information on the Language Learning Scholarship, contact Collins at [email protected] or 405/203-6235.