Together We Learn
The North West region is taking part in this national WEA programme funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (previously DCLG), which supports residents with little or no English to help them integrate into their wider communities and to develop their language skills and even progress to further learning.
One of our first courses started in July where we worked with our partner Pendle Women’s Centre to recruit local people. The courses unlike traditional ESOL classes focus on getting residents out into their communities as well as having some classroom based learning. Our first venture out was to the local library. This is sometimes seen by ESOL students as a place of learning and when English is not your first language it can be quite an intimidating environment. The group attended with their WEA tutor and volunteers and were introduced to library staff and spent time looking at all the facilities and getting a feel for the place. It was a real success and students left feeling enthusiastic about coming again by themselves or with their children and friends.
One volunteer said, “As someone who was so afraid to walk into the college canteen for a whole twelve months, l know how terrifying a new place can be for someone who has little confidence in themselves. This library trip was a challenge for some people. Everyone came from such diverse backgrounds but they soaked up every word that was being said to them by the librarian, although some translation had to be done by the tutor, especially when the language got technical. All of the students joined the library and were given a guided tour of what is available and what is coming up in September, all things that they can take part in. For one hour the students used the computer facilities and were guided to create their own email-addresses and then tutor showed them some sites that they can access at home, with the help of their children, to help them to practice English.
What was amazing was to see some of the ladies wondering off browsing through some easy reading books and one of them purchased a book on Basic English which was available at a reasonable price. Today, we walked into the library with all of our students and the rest is history. Confidence building is the first stepping stone to achieving skills and I believe that these ladies are on their way to becoming, somewhat, independent. This project is a must for such women who are an asset to our community but they just need help! That’s where we come in.”