Well a rather long and overdue blog at the end of a busy term. The first and last of 2022! As we return to the classroom fully, demand for classes remains high. In this blog we will look at our well attended pre-entry class. The class has a mixture of new arrivals and people who need extra practice with their literacy. The mix is not the most perfect as there are learners with differing needs. However, due to funding constraints we have combined the two for now. The enthusiasm and motivation in this class is infectious. As an onlooker, dropping in to check on the class, it was immediately apparent just how wonderful the group has gelled with their teacher and each other. Attendance is high and the class is full.
Moving around the class, learners were keen to show me their work and their books. I was able to see progress from September to December in their literacy and letter formation. I was particularly interested in those who have no literacy in their first language and their development. The teacher has adopted a teaching methodology based on the language experience approach and it was clear students were responding well to this approach to writing.
Finding the right teacher to support these learners comes with its challenges. You need a highly experienced ESOL teacher who understands how basic literacy is acquired. Both these skills are not easy to become accomplished in. There is a lack of training in this area for teachers.
Their class teacher commented, “Initially, the class began as an all ladies group, some from the previous year and some new attendees. This set the scene for a relaxed and open environment where the women could make friendships and share their experiences and cultural differences. The introduction of two males into the class was initially a slight concern and one of the female students expressed concerns that a couple of the female students would stop attending. However, this wasn’t the case. The males have integrated well and the existing students have been welcoming and supportive of our new additions.
I try to add in as much cultural learning where possible to support their integration into the community and the UK as a whole. For example, we have looked at the Royal family around the time of the Queen’s death (language teaching aims were the verb to be, personal pronouns and family vocabulary) and the recent changes in Prime Ministers (language teaching aims were ‘was and were’ and vocabulary). We have also talked about current news and issues in their countries too (for example, the shooting of Imran Khan.) My aim is to broaden their view and understanding of both the UK and each others’ countries, as well as learning and applying useful social language. I also hope that by talking openly about and recognising their cultural differences that this breaks down barriers to learning and makes each student feel valid and confident enough to contribute.”
Anyway moving away from the politics, I look forward to updating you on their progress in a few months to come.