Above: A language school volunteer teacher leads an ESL class at Language Learning Fellowship
The Language Learning Fellowship, a ministry of Oklahoma City, Northwest, has seen a lot of changes over the 22 years of its existence, but nothing quite like a global pandemic. After months of closure, the school is back up and running and needing new teachers to keep up with the demand for their free language learning classes.
“When we were paused for COVID, the church got about 10 calls a week asking when we were going to start up again,” Richard Collins, the school’s director, explained. “We tried to start again last year, but then Delta (COVID variant) hit, and we needed to wait. Now we are back up and running.”
Collins and his wife Deborah have led the school of volunteer teachers since 1999. Throughout the years, the Collinses let their passion for ministry fuel them to learn Spanish and to build up the school.
Collins is not a full-time, vocational pastor. He owns Collins Copier Service and repairs most brands of copiers and fax machines by day.
The school offers free classes on Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the Northwest campus, located at 3030 N.W. 23rd Street in Oklahoma City. Free childcare is available and open from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m.
Among the most popular courses the school offers are English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes. There are also classes in various levels of Spanish, Arabic and Japanese. The school offers a course in biblical Hebrew. A new addition to the school’s curriculum is a class on American Sign Language (ASL).
Another new addition to the curriculum came not as a 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 have been learning 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 sowing ministry,” he said. “We have had a few come to Christ through 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 it when people come to share their testimonies, or bring music, even skits and drama. The children are also hearing the Gospel and being invited to VBS and other children’s programs, as well.”
“We’ll even take preachers,” Collins laughed. “They need to be prepared to speak only about two and a half minutes if they don’t speak Spanish, to allow for translation.”
Collins said the school is in need of a few more teachers. “Right now, we have plenty of English teachers,” he said, “but in the past we have offered Korean, French and Mandarin. But we don’t have teachers for those (languages) at the moment.”
As far as qualifications for teachers, Collins said the biggest requirement is a willing heart to help others.
“We have teachers who have ESL degrees and experience, and some who are learning as they go,” Collins explained. “We have curriculum available, and some of our teachers do their own. It is extremely informal and flexible. The main qualification is a willing heart.”
For more information about the Language Learning Fellowship, contact Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405/203-6235.