Spirituality in Language Teaching

So when people say that they “use spirituality in language teaching”, what does this mean exactly?

As it is, I’m wary of people who use the word “spirituality” in a non-ironic fashion. Which is why imagining spirituality as part of teaching methodology kind of scares me.

10 thoughts on “Spirituality in Language Teaching”

  1. I do it almost daily – all those Catholic authors. Some schools teach the Bible in Spanish, etc., and in culture classes and so on one can talk about the other religions also present in the world of the language they’re teaching. I’m assuming this is for an interview where they’ll ask that question.

    Privately of course I try to practice some form of Buddhism or yoga while teaching freshman and sophomore language classes, when I have to do it, but I would not advertise this. 😉


    1. “Privately of course I try to practice some form of Buddhism or yoga while teaching freshman and sophomore language classes, when I have to do it, but I would not advertise this.”

      – Yes, I’d pray to any God and worship any deity to get through that experience. 🙂 🙂


  2. I don’t use “spirituality” per se in my teaching. (Of course, I teach British lit, mostly.) But I do make reference to religious stuff that’s found in literature. While I’m not a spiritual person, I do have the benefit of having gone to Catholic schools all my life, so I can suss out the religious connotations and share them with my students. It, at least, shows the significance of religion in literature. But I don’t dwell on it. Personally, I am in 100% agreement with you when you say that you are “wary of people who use the word ‘spirituality’ in a non-ironic fashion.” That, for me, was the hardest, scariest part about moving back to the Midwest — people actually believe in God here.


    1. I don’t know what they believe and which God tells them that it’s a good idea to engage in this particular for of exhibitionism, but I always feel sad for people who sell their religion in public.


  3. This discussion is missing the point completely. If I say ‘spirituality’ in such a context as this, it means getting students to take a relaxed, Zen approach to learning and drop being so self conscious that they are terrified of making a mistake. This is the only meaningful spiritual aspect of teaching, as far as I can tell. It has nothing to do with content and everything to do with helping to free students from their fears so that they can succeed.


      1. Right. It definitely isn’t. David is missing the point of the question completely. He’s got the luxury of not having to deal with this kind of question and I envy him, but I don’t appreciate his condescension to those of us who really have to deal with religious atmospheres, make tenure in these situations, etc., and yes, I am talking about public research institutions.


      2. Profacero, I am puzzled that you view my remark as condescending. I don’t see how this is what I was doing at all. Please explain. I attended a FUNDAMENTALIST Xtian college as an undergraduate, so I think I am aware of the issues you are discussing. And, I think they have nothing to do with spirituality. The kinds of things others besides me have written about here would have been called Christianity, not spirituality. In fact, the word spirituality would have been called dishonest, used perhaps by a non-Xtian trying to fit into the Christian environment.


  4. Going the other way around actually does make some sense to me, using language to teach spirituality, although I’m also a decidedly non-spirited person.


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