Language programme helps over 9,000 use English in everyday life
11 May 2016
Over the last two years the English My Way programme from Good Things Foundation has taught more than 9,000 people who don’t speak English as a first language how to interact with the wider community - including talking to doctors, teachers, shopkeepers and bus drivers.
Developed in partnership with BBC Learning English and the British Council, the innovative programme was funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and delivered by Good Things Foundation’s community partners.
Learners from 19 to 90 took part in the programme, which as well as improving language skills has had the knock on effect of improving social isolation and community integration.
38% of English My Way learners were Muslim women, and 30% had actually been in the country for more than 10 years without taking their first steps towards learning the language. 39% had no formal education before, and 37% were actively looking for work.
Since taking part in English My Way more than 70% of learners have progressed onto an Entry Level 1 English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course, while 72% have gone onto other further learning and 22% have progressed into employment.
Mubeen Majahid, 31, is from Pakistan, and took part in English My Way classes at the Crossover UK online centre in Birmingham. She’d lived in England for years, but let her husband and mother in law do most of the talking. She says: “I am very pleased with this course. I am proud because now I am speaking just with English. Before, I was always afraid to talk. But now I am understanding everything.”
Programme Manager at Good Things Foundation was Nicola Speake. She said: “English My Way has shown us that communities are crying out for basic, pre-entry level provision that’s informal and flexible enough to be delivered pretty much anywhere. That means our delivery partners could take it out to mosques, temples, community centres and other spaces that learners already felt comfortable in.
“We’re particularly pleased with the difference the programme has made to women,” Nicola continues. “Many Muslim women play an important role looking after the home and the family, but as Mubeen found it can be all too easy to stick to your own home, community, and routines without venturing further afield. That can leave women very isolated, particularly as their families grow up. What’s more, targeting women and helping them improve their language skills actually has a big impact on families - including on family health and educational support.”
While the programme may have reached an official close, the English My Way resources for learners and tutors continue to be used by the specialist network of ESOL UK online centres, and the project has helped shape and inform Good Things Foundation’s ongoing ESOL strategy.
Nicola concludes: “At Good Things Foundation our aim is to address social challenges with digital solutions, and English My Way has been a great example of that in action.”