Lesson 13

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

TEACHING ILLITERATE STUDENTS

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

C Identify illiterate students.

C Summarize guidelines for teaching illiterate students.

KEY VERSE:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

INTRODUCTION

Some teachers face the challenge of teaching illiterate students. An illiterate student is

one who does not read or write his language. If you plan to teach illiterate students, you need to study this lesson. If you do not plan to teach illiterate students, you may skip this lesson and go on to Chapter Fourteen.

CAN THEY BE TAUGHT?

A person does not have to know how to read and write in order to learn. For example, language is a difficult skill to acquire, yet children learn to speak their native language without knowing how to read and write. It is possible to teach illiterate students the truths of God’s Word even though they cannot read it for themselves.

One of God’s first commands to pass on His Word was to do it verbally:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart;

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of

them when thou sittest in thine house and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Jesus taught without using written material. He never handed out written lessons or had

His students read passages from the Bible.

We can assume that Jesus taught people who were illiterate because His audiences

included the poor who did not have access to education. These people did not read or write lessons Jesus taught. They relied on oral communication to learn.

If you are to teach the Gospel to every person, then you must have a plan to reach the illiterate . You cannot reach everyone with the written message of God’s Word and you cannot assume they must learn to read before they can be reached with the Gospel.

Learning about God is not dependent upon education as much as it is heart attitude:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

TEACHING ILLITERATE STUDENTS

Here are some guidelines for teaching illiterate students:

WORK THROUGH CULTURAL LEADERS:

Illiterate people listen to and obey their leaders . If you can get the leaders to accept the message, it will be more easily communicated to the people. Once the leaders have accepted the message , they can communicate it easily to others because they are used to communicating without written materials.

RELATE THE MESSAGE TO THE CULTURE:

You have learned that a message must be related to the listener to gain attention, make application, and achieve the proper response. Study the culture of the illiterate person . What are the concerns of their everyday life? What are the problems and challenges they face in their culture ? Your message must be related to these concerns to gain attention, make proper application, and achieve response from the people.

RELATE TEACHING METHODS TO THE CULTURE:

Most cultures have a traditional method of passing information from person to person.
Some cultures do it through story telling. Others do it through songs and music that
communicate their message. Study the culture to see how messages are best
communicated. Identify methods commonly used in their culture and use them to teach
Biblical truths.

USE THE ENVIRONMENT:

Use the environment of the illiterate person. Select simple objects from their own culture to use as teaching aids. Remember how Jesus used stones, flowers, seed, birds, fish,
candles, and buildings? You may need to create modern parables to illustrate truths.
Jesus used parables that focused on fishing , planting and harvesting, etc., because His audience understood these things. Your audience may not understand these illustrations.
Study the environment of the illiterate person you are teaching . Use their environment to create modern parables which illustrate Biblical truths.

REPEAT SIMPLE PRINCIPLES:

Keep the lessons simple. Present simple, basic principles. Repeat these basic points

several times to make sure the students have understood them. Have the students repeat the basic truths orally themselves.

SUMMARIZE:

Present a brief statement at the conclusion of the lesson which summarizes the main truth you have been teaching. For example, in teaching the born-again experience of John 3
you could state at the conclusion : "You must be born again . It is a spiritual birth, not a
physical one. You are born again spiritually by repenting of your sin and accepting Jesus as your Savior."

ASK QUESTIONS:

When you are finished teaching a lesson, ask questions to be sure the basic principles of the lesson have been understood.

CALL FOR RESPONSE:

One way to be sure the students have understood the message is to call for a response. For example, at the conclusion of a lesson on John 3, ask "How many of you would like to experience this new birth?"

THE BIBLE: GOD’S BOOK

The Bible is a written message which God directed men to write. It is a book that

contains His Words. His desire is for all men to be able to read it. For this reason, many Christian leaders have become involved in literacy training. This is a program which
teaches illiterate people how to read and write so they will be able to read God’s message for themselves.

If you are interested in doing this, see the "For Further Study" section of this chapter. But
remember, it is not necessary for a person to be able to read and write to respond to the
Gospel.