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Building Classroom and Community Bridges With ESL at Cornerstone University

News June 1, 2023

Imagine a child sitting in a classroom eager to learn and eager to simply understand the words being spoken all around them every day. Imagine a church ministry seeking to reflect the love of Jesus Christ by feeding and clothing families in need. And the ability to communicate is the most basic connection necessary to help fulfill a struggling family’s needs. Cornerstone University understands the profound impact teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) can have to transform the lives of children, families and communities in West Michigan and beyond.

“Building Bridges with ESL in Our Classroom, Church and Community” was the theme for the 2023 ESL Conference hosted by Cornerstone University. ESL education and ministry professionals from across West Michigan gathered to explore effective techniques and strategies to better engage students, more effectively develop shared cultural understanding within their ESL classroom or ministry, and learn how to communicate the gospel through ESL.

“Your work matters profoundly as teachers by changing the trajectory of lives and displaying the love of Christ to those around you,” offered Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, president of Cornerstone University, in his opening remarks. “Cornerstone is deeply committed to providing ESL and ministry educators with the most effective tools available to elevate the lives of families in Michigan and reflect the university’s mission to spread the gospel.”

Dr. Moreno-Riaño shared his personal experience as a 9-year-old immigrant from Columbia arriving in Rochester, N.Y., and whose family spoke no English. The compassionate ministry of one couple offering to teach his family English inspired his 30-plus-year career as an educator. The couple’s influence created a pathway to Cornerstone University whose mission aims to prepare thousands of bold, Christ-centered influencers to transform lives by embodying grace and compassion through education.

Sharing the English language is the most powerful skill to open world-changing possibilities to others. Distinguished conference speaker Clare Jewell, executive director of ABWE’s ministry EveryEthne, led “Heart, Mind, and Soul” workshops featuring how to share the gospel and develop redemptive relationships with people who culturally differ. “MyCircle Training” and “Incorporating Spiritual Themes Into ESL Lessons” were the focus of collaborative workshop sessions focused on how to build compassionate relationships with God’s people through ESL professional and ministry relationships.

Dr. Michael Pasquale, professor of linguistics and director of the M.A. in TESOL at Cornerstone, Monica Pasquale, co-director/consultant for EveryEthne, and Brian Pickerd, instructor of languages and teacher trainer at Cornerstone, facilitated the afternoon’s engaging sessions offering practical applications for Christ-centered ESL influence.

Cornerstone’s next Annual ESL Conference will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2024, to continue to offer networking opportunities and ESL effectiveness training in Michigan. Featured guest speakers include Cornerstone alum Professor Peter Hoffman, Michigan State University English Language Center, and Dr. Akiko Ota, ESL program director at Governors State University and Cornerstone adjunct TESOL faculty member.

Cornerstone University offers an ESL Endorsement and an M.A. in TESOL to prepare students for the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification’s English as a Second Language test. TESOL minors for teacher education and ministry contexts are also available. For more information on pursuing an ESL program at Cornerstone that compassionately transforms lives, please contact an enrollment adviser at 616.949.5300.

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