Example #56 Languages and Hospitality

What if a language class were about hospitality to strangers?

David taught modern languages at Secondary level, and was looking for ways to connect language learning with moral and spiritual development.

"I wanted my students to begin to think of language study in terms of learning to extend hospitality to strangers and loving people who are from other cultures. For that reason, I wanted my students to encounter people from the target culture who had something to teach us. Too many of the people represented in my textbook were either cartoon characters or stock photos and offered little opportunity to develop empathy or receive personal challenges.

"In my German class, I began to work with the story of the White Rose, a group of Christian students who resisted the Nazi regime in World War 2. I started the class with a single black and white photo on the screen, showing three of the students gathered together outdoors, looking very grim. (The photograph is widely available online, for example here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WhiteRose.jpg.) There are some other people at the edges of the photo and in the background. I began to ask simple questions (in German) – what do you see? How many people are there? How old are they? Where are they? How are they feeling? And so on.

"One great feature of this photo is that not all of its details strike the eye immediately. When I ask how many people there are, students often say 'three' or 'four' at first, then start revising their guesses. It is possible to count six. Using this question at the start invites students to be more attentive and really focus on what is going on.

"Using more questions and more photos I gradually told the story of how and why these students chose to resist the Nazi regime and how they were eventually caught and executed (the recent film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a good resource) but nevertheless expressed a great deal of hope and courage in the face of death. We did reading, listening, and writing activities connected with the story. My pupils got very involved in what happens to the German students, and when we were done I could honestly say to them that we had been practising welcoming strangers into our lives, hearing their stories and learning from them. We discussed what we might have done in a similar situation, and where we would draw hope from."

What’s going on here?

David saw his language lesson as a place to emphasise and practise love for others and in particular hospitality to strangers. He also saw this process as involving a need to practise reflective attentiveness, and not just a matter of conveying information.

He engaged students experientially through the introductory image and questions, which focused their attention on learning from others. He also used storytelling as a way of helping students make personal connections and used the discussion to encourage grappling with big questions.

He reshaped his practice by planning an evocative introduction and using a key image to set the tone objects, by reframing learning in terms of the framing concept of hospitality, and by using storytelling and a planned series of questions to help students connect their learning to their own choices and the wider world.

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

David approached his class with an intentional focus on how language learning could be about learning to love and learn from others. Christian faith includes an emphasis not only on loving one's neighbour but on loving strangers, those who are different from us. This lesson also included an emphasis on the role played by faith in the lives and decisions of the German students, and how it gave them hope in desperate circumstances.

What difference does it make?

Language learning can sometimes end up with the main focus on me getting to say what I want to say or learning how to obtain services abroad. This lesson shifted the focus to listening to others' stories and involved a story that contained spiritual and moral challenges that could stimulate students to serious reflection.

Where could we go from here?

A range of other stories can be used in the foreign language classroom to create an emphasis on welcoming and learning from others, both historical stories told through word and image and, if available, stories from local people who can be invited into class.

Digging deeper

The Bible teaches that we should love both neighbours and strangers as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18, Leviticus 19:33-34), and calls us to exercise hospitality towards strangers (Matthew 25:34-35, Hebrews 13:2).

Loving attention starts with humility. This is an attitude that considers that others deserve to be heard (Philippians 2:3). The Bible describes the world as God’s and people as his creation. In some way people reflect a little of God and this gives them an inherent worth. It is not up to us to assign worth to some people and withhold it from others (Genesis 1:27). If we value others we give their lives, ideas and what they produce careful attention.

The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

Humility is essential if we are to learn from others. It is not grovelling self-abasement but it is the opposite of pride and arrogance. It is not being untruthful about our abilities. True humility is a generous attitude of mind that values others and sees oneself realistically. Jesus modelled humility throughout his life. Differences in culture, age, or material wealth are not seen as grounds for pride.

Explore similar examples:

What if students could learn respect through art?
What if language practise helped students think about community?
What if a grammar lesson challenged selfishness?

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1The Lord told Moses 2to say to the community of Israel: I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too! 3Respect your father and your mother, honour the Sabbath, and don't make idols or images. I am the Lord your God. 5When you offer a sacrifice to ask my blessing, be sure to follow my instructions. 6You may eat the meat either on the day of the sacrifice or on the next day, but you must burn anything left until the third day. 7If you eat any of it on the third day, the sacrifice will be disgusting to me, and I will reject it. 8In fact, you will be punished for not respecting what I say is holy, and you will no longer belong to the community of Israel. 9When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing along the edges of your fields and don't pick up what falls on the ground. 10Don't strip your grapevines clean or gather the grapes that fall off the vines. Leave them for the poor and for those foreigners who live among you. I am the Lord your God. 11Do not steal or tell lies or cheat others. 12Do not misuse my name by making promises you don't intend to keep. I am the Lord your God. 13Do not steal anything or cheat anyone, and don't fail to pay your workers at the end of each day. 14I am the Lord your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble. 15Be fair, no matter who is on trialdon't favour either the poor or the rich. 16Don't be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone's life. 17Don't hold grudges. On the other hand, it's wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18Stop being angry and don't try to take revenge. I am the Lord , and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself. 19Breed your livestock animals only with animals of the same kind, and don't plant two kinds of seed in the same field or wear clothes made of different kinds of material. 20If a man has sex with a slave woman who is promised in marriage to someone else, he must pay a fine, but they are not to be put to death. After all, she was still a slave at the time. 21The man must bring a ram to the entrance of the sacred tent and give it to a priest, who will then offer it as a sacrifice to me, so the man's sins will be forgiven. 23After you enter the land, you will plant fruit trees, but you are not to eat any of their fruit for the first three years. 24In the fourth year the fruit must be set apart, as an expression of thanks 25to me, the Lord God. Do this, and in the fifth year, those trees will produce an abundant harvest of fruit for you to eat. 26Don't eat the blood of any animal. Don't practise any kind of witchcraft. 27I forbid you to shave any part of your head or beard or to cut and tattoo yourself as a way of worshipping the dead. 29Don't let your daughters serve as temple prostitutesthis would bring disgrace both to them and the land. 30I command you to respect the Sabbath and the place where I am worshipped. 31Don't make yourselves disgusting to me by going to people who claim they can talk to the dead. 32I command you to show respect for older people and to obey me with fear and trembling. 33Don't ill-treat any foreigners who live in your land. 34Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 35Use honest scales and don't cheat when you weigh or measure anything. I am the Lord your God. I rescued you from Egypt, 37and I command you to obey my laws. Penalties for disobeying God's laws
1The Lord told Moses 2to say to the community of Israel: I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too! 3Respect your father and your mother, honour the Sabbath, and don't make idols or images. I am the Lord your God. 5When you offer a sacrifice to ask my blessing, be sure to follow my instructions. 6You may eat the meat either on the day of the sacrifice or on the next day, but you must burn anything left until the third day. 7If you eat any of it on the third day, the sacrifice will be disgusting to me, and I will reject it. 8In fact, you will be punished for not respecting what I say is holy, and you will no longer belong to the community of Israel. 9When you harvest your grain, always leave some of it standing along the edges of your fields and don't pick up what falls on the ground. 10Don't strip your grapevines clean or gather the grapes that fall off the vines. Leave them for the poor and for those foreigners who live among you. I am the Lord your God. 11Do not steal or tell lies or cheat others. 12Do not misuse my name by making promises you don't intend to keep. I am the Lord your God. 13Do not steal anything or cheat anyone, and don't fail to pay your workers at the end of each day. 14I am the Lord your God, and I command you not to make fun of the deaf or to cause a blind person to stumble. 15Be fair, no matter who is on trialdon't favour either the poor or the rich. 16Don't be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone's life. 17Don't hold grudges. On the other hand, it's wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. 18Stop being angry and don't try to take revenge. I am the Lord , and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself. 19Breed your livestock animals only with animals of the same kind, and don't plant two kinds of seed in the same field or wear clothes made of different kinds of material. 20If a man has sex with a slave woman who is promised in marriage to someone else, he must pay a fine, but they are not to be put to death. After all, she was still a slave at the time. 21The man must bring a ram to the entrance of the sacred tent and give it to a priest, who will then offer it as a sacrifice to me, so the man's sins will be forgiven. 23After you enter the land, you will plant fruit trees, but you are not to eat any of their fruit for the first three years. 24In the fourth year the fruit must be set apart, as an expression of thanks 25to me, the Lord God. Do this, and in the fifth year, those trees will produce an abundant harvest of fruit for you to eat. 26Don't eat the blood of any animal. Don't practise any kind of witchcraft. 27I forbid you to shave any part of your head or beard or to cut and tattoo yourself as a way of worshipping the dead. 29Don't let your daughters serve as temple prostitutesthis would bring disgrace both to them and the land. 30I command you to respect the Sabbath and the place where I am worshipped. 31Don't make yourselves disgusting to me by going to people who claim they can talk to the dead. 32I command you to show respect for older people and to obey me with fear and trembling. 33Don't ill-treat any foreigners who live in your land. 34Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. 35Use honest scales and don't cheat when you weigh or measure anything. I am the Lord your God. I rescued you from Egypt, 37and I command you to obey my laws. Penalties for disobeying God's laws
1The kingdom of heaven is like what happened one night when ten girls took their oil lamps and went to a wedding to meet the groom. 2Five of the girls were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps, but no extra oil. 4The ones who were wise took along extra oil for their lamps. 5The groom was late arriving, and the girls became drowsy and fell asleep. 6Then in the middle of the night someone shouted, Here's the groom! Come to meet him! 7When the girls got up and started getting their lamps ready, 8the foolish ones said to the others, Let us have some of your oil! Our lamps are going out. 9The girls who were wise answered, There's not enough oil for all of us! Go and buy some for yourselves. 10While the foolish girls were on their way to get some oil, the groom arrived. The girls who were ready went into the wedding, and the doors were closed. 11Later the other girls returned and shouted, Sir, sir! Open the door for us! 12But the groom replied, I don't even know you! 13So, my disciples, always be ready! You don't know the day or the time when all this will happen. A story about three servants (Luke 19.11-27) Jesus continued: 14The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country. 16As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. 17The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. 18But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master's money in the ground. 19Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. 20The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more. 21Wonderful! his master replied. You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness! 22Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more. 23Wonderful! his master replied. You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness! 24The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don't plant and gather crops where you haven't scattered seed. 25I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin! 26The master of the servant told him, You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don't plant and gather crops where I haven't scattered seed. 27You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it. 28Then the master said, Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! 29Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don't have anything. 30You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. The final judgment Jesus continued: 31When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. 32The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats. 33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the king will say to those on his right, My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. 35When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, 36and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me. 37Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, When did we give you something to eat or drink? 38When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear 39or visit you while you were sick or in jail? 40The king will answer, Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me. 41Then the king will say to those on his left, Get away from me! You are under God's curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. 43I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me. 44Then the people will ask, Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail? 45The king will say to them, Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me. 46Then Jesus said, Those people will be punished for ever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life. The plot to kill Jesus (Mark 14.1,2; Luke 22.1,2; John 11.45-53)
1Keep being concerned about each other as the Lord's followers should. 2Be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guests, without even knowing it. 3Remember the Lord's people who are in jail and be concerned for them. Don't forget those who are suffering, but imagine that you are there with them. 4Have respect for marriage. Always be faithful to your partner, because God will punish anyone who is immoral or unfaithful in marriage. 5Don't fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us. 6That should make you feel like saying, The Lord helps me! Why should I be afraid of what people can do to me? 7Don't forget about your leaders who taught you God's message. Remember what kind of lives they lived and try to have faith like theirs. 8Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. 9Don't be fooled by any kind of strange teachings. It is better to receive strength from God's undeserved kindness than to depend on certain foods. After all, these foods don't really help the people who eat them. 10But we have an altar where even the priests who serve in the place of worship have no right to eat. 11After the high priest offers the blood of animals as a sin offering, the bodies of those animals are burnt outside the camp. 12Jesus himself suffered outside the city gate, so that his blood would make people holy. 13That's why we should go outside the camp to Jesus and share in his disgrace. 14On this earth we don't have a city that lasts for ever, but we are waiting for such a city. 15Our sacrifice is to keep offering praise to God in the name of Jesus. 16But don't forget to help others and to share your possessions with them. This too is like offering a sacrifice that pleases God. 17Obey your leaders and do what they say. They are watching over you, and they must answer to God. So don't make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. Otherwise, they won't be able to help you at all. 18Pray for us. Our consciences are clear, and we always try to live right. 19I especially want you to pray that I can visit you again soon. 20God gives peace, and he raised our Lord Jesus Christ from death. Now Jesus is like a Great Shepherd whose blood was used to make God's eternal agreement with his flock. 21I pray that God will make you ready to obey him and that you will always be eager to do right. May Jesus help you do what pleases God. To Jesus Christ be glory for ever and ever! Amen. 22My friends, I have written only a short letter to encourage you, and I beg you to pay close attention to what I have said. 23By now you must know that our friend Timothy is out of jail. If he gets here in time, I will bring him with me when I come to visit you. 24Please give my greetings to your leaders and to the rest of the Lord's people. His followers from Italy send you their greetings. 25I pray that God will be kind to all of you!
1Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God's Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. 2Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. 3Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. 4Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought: 6Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. 7Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us. 8Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. 9Then God gave Christ the highest place and honoured his name above all others. 10So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. 11And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, Jesus Christ is Lord! Lights in the world 12My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. 13God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him. 14Do everything without grumbling or arguing. 15Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, 16as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless. 17Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice. If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you. 18In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me. Timothy and Epaphroditus 19I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you. 20I don't have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does. 21The others think only about what interests them and not about what concerns Christ Jesus. 22But you know what kind of person Timothy is. He has worked with me like a son in spreading the good news. 23I hope to send him to you, as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me. 24And I feel sure that the Lord will also let me come soon. 25I think I ought to send my dear friend Epaphroditus back to you. He is a follower and a worker and a soldier of the Lord, just as I am. You sent him to look after me, 26but now he is eager to see you. He is worried, because you heard he was sick. 27In fact, he was very sick and almost died. But God was kind to him, and also to me, and he kept me from being burdened down with sorrow. 28Now I am more eager than ever to send Epaphroditus back again. You will be glad to see him, and I won't have to worry any longer. 29Be sure to give him a cheerful welcome, just as people who serve the Lord deserve. 30He almost died working for Christ, and he risked his own life to do for me what you could not.
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water. 3God said, I command light to shine! And light started shining. 4God looked at the light and saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness 5and named the light Day and the darkness Night. Evening came and then morningthat was the first day. 6God said, I command a dome to separate the water above it from the water below it. 7And that's what happened. God made the dome 8and named it Sky. Evening came and then morningthat was the second day. 9God said, I command the water under the sky to come together in one place, so there will be dry ground. And that's what happened. 10God named the dry ground Land, and he named the water Sea. God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good. 11God said, I command the earth to produce all kinds of plants, including fruit trees and grain. And that's what happened. 12The earth produced all kinds of vegetation. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 13Evening came and then morningthat was the third day. 14God said, I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show the time for seasons, special days, and years. 15I command them to shine on the earth. And that's what happened. 16God made two powerful lights, the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17Then God put these lights in the sky to shine on the earth, 18to rule day and night, and to separate light from darkness. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 19Evening came and then morningthat was the fourth day. 20God said, I command the sea to be full of living creatures, and I command birds to fly above the earth. 21So God made the giant sea monsters and all the living creatures that swim in the sea. He also made every kind of bird. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. 22Then he gave the living creatures his blessinghe told the sea creatures to live everywhere in the sea and the birds to live everywhere on earth. 23Evening came and then morningthat was the fifth day. 24God said, I command the earth to give life to all kinds of tame animals, wild animals, and reptiles. And that's what happened. 25God made every one of them. Then he looked at what he had done, and it was good. 26God said, Now we will make humans, and they will be like us. We will let them rule the fish, the birds, and all other living creatures. 27So God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women. 28God gave them his blessing and said: Have a lot of children! Fill the earth with people and bring it under your control. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and every animal on the earth. 29I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat. 30And I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds. 31God looked at what he had done. All of it was very good! Evening came and then morningthat was the sixth day.