English My Way Continues to Grow

14 Sep 2016 |Written by Robert Shapiro

We are delighted to announce that Good Things Foundation have successfully secured funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to deliver the English My Way programme for a third year. This extension to the programme focuses primarily on supporting isolated groups of women with no or low levels of English to integrate with their local communities, and there are already 90 centres primed to get started.

Third Year of the Programme

Since English My Way launched in April 2014, Good Things Foundation - through the UK online centres - has supported over 9,000 adults to develop their English language skills through the English My Way website and support from volunteers and staff at organisations including community centres and libraries, and at outreach locations such as primary schools, temples and children’s centres. We now look forward to working with our community delivery partners to support an additional 3,600 adults before the end of March 2017.

It’s great that we can build on the success of previous years and continue to grow such an important national programme, by taking English language learning to the heart of communities where it is needed most. The aim of the programme has always been to reach out to some of the most socially excluded people in the country, including those who are not eligible for other forms of ESOL support (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

The programme aims to support those excluded from the life of their local community, by uncovering new ways to teach basic conversational English to people facing significant language barriers and integration challenges. At Good Things Foundation we’re used to making good things happen with digital technology. English My Way is a slight shift in focus, as it looks at inclusion through learning English, with digital being the tool to make that happen. You can read more about how English My Way came about in our Inclusion Through Learning English blog we wrote back in April 2014.

What The Evaluation Has Told Us

By carrying out a thorough evaluation of the programme so far, we were able to find out what worked well for UK online centres delivering English My Way, and the sorts of challenges they faced so that we could work with them to try and overcome these. By collaborating with 10 centres funded to deliver English My Way as Research Partners, we were also able to understand the impact of the programme on the people it supported. Like Aamina from Birmingham who has used her improved English language skills and confidence to secure her and her family’s future away from an abusive relationship, and Joginder and Harpreet from Leicester who now have more confidence to book appointments with their doctor.

You can read more about the evaluation findings in our newly published English My Way Phase 2 Key Findings report. And if you want to know more about this great programme you can visit our English My Way project page which includes a full version of the evaluation report, lots of interesting learner and delivery partner case studies and our Community ESOL Handbook which offers practical advice for tackling the challenges and delivering ESOL learning in the community.

More Reach

This year we are extending the reach of English my Way by funding 90 community organisations across England to deliver the programme in areas where people need the most support to improve their English language skills and confidence to be able to do everyday things like speak to neighbours or teachers at school.

Training the Network

Year 3 of the programme was launched earlier in August 2016 with two training events in London and Sheffield to brief community centres new to the project and for attendees to share their experiences in preparation to start. Nothing beats hearing first hand experience and Vick Virdee, Centre Manager at ACDA Skills Training; Julie Hughes, a tutor at Crossover St Paul’s and Don Davidson at Safety First Community Training Centre talked about how important it is to understand and work with the community you’re teaching in, offering tips and guidance on how to engage the hardest to reach people. St Paul’s Crossover has successfully delivered English My Way for three years, taking English My Way out to schools and children’s centres in the Bordesley Green and Alum Rock areas of Birmingham.

At the London event on 16th August it was our pleasure to welcome Lord Nick Bourne of Aberystwyth along with Helen Jones and Peter Fenn from the Department of Communities and Local Government. It was great to see them meeting and talking to the community centres involved in English My Way about their experiences of delivering the programme and the positive impact it's had in their local area.

More Than English

The aim of English My Way is to teach Pre-entry level English. But having delivered the programme for over two years now, we know that it represents so much more. By delivering Pre-entry level ESOL in open and friendly community settings, learning can be tailored to the individual’s circumstances, and volunteers can help engage learners by speaking their native languages and understanding cultural sensitivities. But perhaps most importantly, by helping learners deal with multiple barriers to inclusion and integration, UK online centre support can give them space for learning as they can attend ESOL sessions and get other support and advice at the same time.

We look forward to updating you on findings from the evaluation of phase 3 of English My Way as they arise over the next few months.

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English My Way