Love New Canadians

Understanding Bridges

It can be difficult for new Canadians to move from an ESL class to a Friday night bible study or a Sunday morning church worship service. We have developed transitional programming that serves as a bridge from settlement programming to more spiritually focused programming. We call this class “Bridges.” “Bridges” is a class with friendly people from around the world studying English language, Canadian culture, and Christian faith. The class is offered in a context that is welcoming, respectful, and interactive. Each week we have a focus on some aspect of Canadian culture (e.g. winter driving, Valentine’s Day, daylight savings, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, garage sales, camping, Halloween, etc). This is followed by a reading of 8-10 verses from one of the gospels. Then we break into small groups of 3-5 with one volunteer at each table. Students are led through an English vocabulary exercise based on the gospel portion that has been read, followed by 11-13 discussion questions that are based on that gospel text. These questions show the link between the ideas in the life and teaching of Jesus and our own contemporary lives. For example, if in the gospel text Jesus was in a boat on a lake, one of the discussion questions might ask about student experiences in a boat or on a lake. We usually have 1 or 2 spiritually focused questions each week that provide a non-threatening exploration of the implications of Jesus’ teaching for our own lives. For example, when Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother 77 times we asked the question, “Tell us about a time when you forgave someone or someone else forgave you.” Like all of our curriculum, “Bridges” can be used by volunteers without specialized TESL training.