The Ultimate Language Lesson
Before Ephesians 2:8-9 heralded my salvation, it was a tongue twister.
It was 1992. We were in northwest Poland, an hour's drive south from the Baltic Sea.
"For it is by grace you have been saved," said a redheaded Californian, looking at me intently.
"For it is by grace you have been saved," I repeated after the missionary who was my conversational English teacher. He was the best deal in town (the lessons were free, under one condition: we use the Bible as our textbook).
"Through faith," he continued. Ah, th, the great bugaboo of all Poles learning English.
I gave it a try: "Tru fait."
"No—through, through," my English teacher said. "Look here." He stuck out his tongue demonstratively. "Through."
"Fru fayf." I couldn't get myself to repeat the vulgar gesture.
"Through, through, through!" he said, spitting.
After a few more lessons, I dropped my inhibitions and learned how to pronounce th—as in "through faith," "God so loved the world," and "there is one God and one mediator."
Sometime between "tru" and "through," I was born again.
When Tom Scovel—one of the world's top teachers of English teachers, linguistics professor at the politically correct San Francisco State University, and a committed Christian—says that "learning a new language is, in many ways, like being born again linguistically," it resonates with me.
I was one of many young Poles wooed by God in the world's most popular and powerful language. Eager to wake from a communism-induced malaise, my generation (born in the 1970s) studied English hungrily. Soon after the Iron Curtain lifted in 1989, we abandoned the foreign, yet eerily familiar, Russian language (mandatory classes attempted to indoctrinate us with readings that idolized Lenin and Stalin). Instead, we ...