The student can become the teacher as Mrs Khan learns English to kick start her career

28 Feb 2018


A Pakistani-British woman is navigating life in the UK and realising her dream of working with children, by learning to speak English.

Mrs Khan, a 41-year-old mother from Pakistan, moved to the UK 23 years ago. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and four children.

In primary school, Mrs Khan studied one English book, so when she moved to the UK, she spoke almost no English at all.

She attempted to learn English at a local college several years ago and made some progress, but because her children are bilingual, they would always speak to her in her native Urdu. Without practice, Mrs Khan subsequently lost her skills and confidence.

Mrs Khan says: “A long time ago, I learned in another place. I went outside, in some shops, but I was not confident speaking. I did not speak with my children because I had to speak my own language and they speak English to each other, not me.”

Fortunately, Mrs Khan heard about the English My Way classes at Smartlyte, an Online Centre based in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham.

“My friend came here,” explains Mrs Khan. “She told me about the classes and Hafsha [the class tutor] is here teaching us. I didn’t know Hafsha but then I came and joined English class.”

Mrs Khan’s children are older now but her passion to pursue a career in childcare and her love of watching children develop and learn new skills was a great motivator. Mrs Khan says: “I wanted to speak English to do childcare and teacher course.”

The English My Way course, has seen her build up confidence and make friends.

“It’s better now,” says Mrs Khan. “I do things like ask shopkeeper ‘how much is this?’ I couldn’t do that before. I can speak with friend in English and I feel more confident. I can speak to my children.

“Some nurses speak my language but some don't. Now I can speak with nurses in English. I can also ring up [places] and make payments.”

Mrs Khan’s tutor, Hafsha, says: “The English My Way course has helped Mrs Khan’s self-esteem. She is aware she will need some qualifications to work in childcare and this will require a good standard of English.

“Mrs Khan is also now able to use her IT skills for further research about a career in childcare and the courses she will have to do.”

Mrs Khan has joined Smartlyte’s IT class and is quickly becoming computer literate. She even supports and translates for her peers in the computer and English classes too.

Mrs Khan says: “Some people who speak my own language and don’t understand English, I can help. Some read a book and they struggle, I can help. If I don’t understand English, I can’t help.

“Before I was not that confident, then I start learning English and it’s very good. I live in this country and I have to speak English. I’ve told two more people [about the classes]. I have made friends and we speak English together.”

At the request of the case study subject, her name has been changed.