ESOL learners take a trip to the seaside
Nazneen Gulzar has been delivering English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at The Royal Hotel in Chuckery and Walsall Jamia Masjid Ghausia, Birchills for the past 6 months; her classes predominantly serve a mix of different communities from South Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and West Africa, all of whom are female.
Nazneen’s current cohort was initially of mixed ability, some with little or no English at all. Their confidence and self-esteem were very low. Many were referred from the Job Centre; for some, this was something they had always wanted to do but found they couldn’t due to cultural/religious barriers. Being mandated to attend was somewhat refreshing for them, getting them out of the house and interacting with others.
One of the most important aspects of this type of learning is the practical application and the confidence gained by being independent, for many, for the first time in their lives. Nazneen found a unique way of combining these elements by tasking learners to plan a joint trip to Rhyl in north Wales. Learners were required to find out about costs for coaches, check the weather on the day, journey/travel time, and review and manage costs. Learners were using their English language skills over the telephone, accessing the internet to perform their research and utilising mathematical skills by working out costs and seeing what was cost-effective. They were given a sense of ownership to organise a whole event for themselves.
Some of these women have never left Walsall or visited other parts of the UK before, so it was something new for them. It gave them a sense of independence and belonging, being able to interact and engage with other women in similar situations, meeting new people and making friends. It gave them a break from their daily schedule of cooking and cleaning and realising there is more to life than just being a housewife.
One of the learners told us how enjoyable it was working together to plan the trip: “We were able to use our English language skills we learned in the class, so we knew what we were learning was beneficial to our everyday life. It was nice to explore different parts of the UK and learn about different cultures and taste different food.”
So what’s next for these learners? Many of them have completed exams and have passed. Some would like to learn how to use a computer and will be starting IT classes/some would like to complete a Food Hygiene course.
Nazneen is immensely proud of what they’ve achieved: “I am so proud of all the ladies; they are an absolute wonder to teach and have worked so hard. They really deserved this trip, which they organised themselves. It was so nice to see them enjoy themselves and see the changes in their attitude and confidence!”