WEA learner wins prestigious National English Language Learning Award

WEA learner, Shamim Hussein, has been recognised by the Festival of Learning for breaking down barriers and inspiring others in his community.  

Shamim arrived in the UK in 2004 with only a few words of English and relied on a few key English phrases he had picked up through his work as a restaurant worker. He had not considered taking an English language course due to stigma in his local community, where it isn’t always widely accepted for Bangladeshi men to study English in the way that women are encouraged to do so.  

However, following a serious medical injury which left his wife with severe brain injuries, Shamim’s life turned upside-down. Suddenly, he found himself becoming the primary caregiver to his daughter and a new born baby, while having to arrange complex hospital appointments and navigating the school system for his elder daughter.  

Shamim had to give up work to support his wife and children and for a few years relied on translators to support him, which was a stressful experience. After a while, realising this could not be a long-term solution and motivated by a need to support his family, he made the decision to enrol on an English Language course. 

This is when the WEA entered his life.  Shamim started studying with WEA in January 2020 on the Together We Learn project. He then joined the Get Ready for ESOL course and progressed to Entry 1 Speaking & Listening which he passed in July 2021.  

And, the learning hasn’t stopped there, Shamim is currently enrolled on an Entry Level Two course. 

Not only did Shamim work hard and progress through these courses, he has inspired other men in his community to enrol onto English classes by showing them it is never too late to learn and that there shouldn’t be any stigma attached.  

Shamim said: 

“I am very proud to receive this award. I’m no longer stressed about relying on other people to translate, and it’s a huge relief to be able to communicate with my daughter’s school. I feel proud to be able to help my children. 

“I’m also proud of the impact my English learning is having on my community. More men are now enrolling in English classes, and women who were initially unsure about having a man in the class are now a great support.” 

Katie Easey, Director of Education: Community Learning at the WEA said:  

“In just one year, Shamim has come such a long way with his English. It’s been wonderful to see his confidence grow as he’s become able to support his family and make a new group of friends through the group, while inspiring other members of his community to follow in his footsteps.  

“The WEA exists to support all those that need education to help them start on their career goals, raise aspirations and to be able to connect and integrate with their communities. And, exemplified by Shamim, to enable people to become confident and independent individuals.”