I’d like to present my take on First Corinthians 13. I wrote this as a Christian ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher and presented this as part of my workshop presentation in the ACSI International Christian Educators’ Conference in South Korea. I feel it is appropriate to include it in this paper as I have sought to apply 1 Corinthians 13 in my work and my ministry contexts.
The Greatest in TESOL is …
(Adapted by Dr. A Morelos from 1 Corinthians 13)
1) If I can speak in each of the tongues of my ESOL students and express myself in their first languages, but have no hint of love for them in my heart, I am only a loud and resounding chatter or a clanging cymbal.
2) If I have the gift of making them all learn to speak English like native speakers and can help them fathom all of the reading strategies and all of the writing conventions and intricate processes of ESL acquisition, and if I have faith that can turn them into fluent speakers, readers and writers, but have not sought their well-being and there’s no trace of love for them in my soul, I am nothing.
3) If I give to the ones people label as “limited and underachieving” all that I know and devote my time, energy and maximum effort to improve their English proficiency, but have no love in my thoughts for them, I literally gain nothing.
4) Love is patient to all – to the achievers, the mediocre ones and the slow learners. Love is kind to each of them. Love does not envy other teachers. It does not boast of his ESL qualifications; it is not showy and proud of his own ESOL credentials.
5) Love is not rude – even to the rude ones. Love is not self-seeking but seeks the welfare of all, most particularly the struggling and the deficient. Love is not easily angered by those who learn slow or easily annoyed with those who act silly. It holds no record of biases and discrimination but only of what is right and pure and helpful.
6-7) Love does not delight in seeing EL learners fail but rejoices with every progress they’re making. Love always protects the dignity of his ESL students, always believes in their potential and trusts in their capacities to learn, always hopes for their bright tomorrow, always perseveres till each one of them succeeds in school and in life.
8) Love never fails. But where there are L2 acquisition hypotheses, they will cease; where there are multiple intelligences, they will be stilled; where there is a solid linguistic theory, it will pass away.
9-10) For we know our ESOL children in part and we help them achieve in part, but when our love for them blooms to the full, the imperfection of our dealings with them disappears.
11) When I was a newbie ESOL teacher, I talked like a newbie, I thought like a newbie, I reasoned like a newbie. When I became a more loving and mature ESOL mentor, I set aside my negative attitudes and ethnocentric ways away.
12-13) Now we see but a poor reflection of what our ESL students can fully become; and in the near future, we shall see them become great movers of good deeds and leaders and doers of what is truly beautiful, honorable and right. Now I know them in part; then I shall know fully of what they will become, even as I am fully known. At the end of the day, only one of these three remains: research-based L2 theories, best ESOL practices and the attitude of pure and persistent love.
But the greatest of these and the only one that truly remains in their hearts and ours is love.