English language programme brings communities closer

Success of community-based English language project, developed by digital and social inclusion charity Good Things Foundation in partnership with the BBC and the British Council, to be celebrated

Austin Clark | 2nd Mar 18

Events will be held all across the country next week to celebrate the fact that over 20,000 non-English speakers have improved their English language skills, reducing isolation and connecting with their communities.

They’ve been supported through the English My Way programme, a community-based English language project, developed by leading digital and social inclusion charity Good Things Foundation in partnership with the BBC and the British Council.

From 5 – 12 March 2018, more than 70 community organisations delivering English My Way will be celebrating the impact it has had, holding parties for learners past and present, volunteers, tutors and local partners.

One centre taking part is Zest for Work in Sheffield. Tutor Theresa Smith said: “It’s amazing seeing the difference the programme makes to the people who learn with us. They start with little or no English skills and many of them are very isolated as a result but gradually, they build up their abilities and confidence – and make friends too.

“My group of learners love a get-together and they always invite me, so it’s nice that, this time I can hold a party for them, to say well done for all their hard work! Not only is it something fun to do but it’s also a great way for them to practise their new English skills with each other.”

Since 2014, more than 150 community organisations have supported people from all walks of life, helping them to improve their English language skills and better their circumstances, allowing them to engage more with life in the UK.

English My Way, is funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and supports adults with no or low levels of English language skills to better integrate with their community.

Previously struggling to communicate on a day-to-day basis, participants are now speaking to their doctors, their children’s teachers and accessing the most essential services, many for the first time.

One of the learners English My Way has supported is Thiruchelvi Punithhalingam from Empowering Education in Luton. She says: “English My Way is a very good programme. It’s very good for everyone and I have made lots of friends. We speak English and drink coffee together. Now I can speak in shops, on buses and help my children with homework. Learning English is very important for my life.

The impacts of English My Way have been life changing, reducing isolation, helping people find work and helping to build confidence and strengthen relationships.

More than 13,000 people have improved their confidence trying out their new English skills with other people, more than 11,000 have progressed to further ESOL learning and English My Way has helped more than 4,000 people find work.