Christ Church Sparkbrook

We have 23 learners on our records this year and an average class is between 6-9 people. All our learners are female[…]. We are finding the majority of our learners are attending the course in order to build up their confidence when out in the community, although two ladies were attending to  work towards their citizenship test. Because of the range of cultural backgrounds within the group – Pakistani, Chinese, Yemeni, and Bangladeshi – what is apparent is how this course is a great platform for building community cohesion; and we are seeing the learners come along to other events we  provide to help build community.

Last Monday we worked Contacting the Emergency Services from the Term 2 booklet. We invited the local police to this session since it would help introduce the ladies to the police and help build reassurance if they ever needed to make contact; something which they otherwise may have found intimidating.   Not only did the police come and provide safety advice and awareness but they also participated in some of the role play. It was really good fun and at the end of the session all the ladies agreed that they felt more confident in the event of an emergency and keeping themselves safe.

During the summer we will hold an award ceremony for those who have participated which I will keep you informed as we would be delighted for you to attend.

On Speaking Terms

Creative English was featured as a case study in On Speaking Terms, a report by think-tank Demos on the state of provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in England and how it compares with other nations.

Our research identifies a number of advantages associated with English ability, which extend far beyond the labour market outcomes that often dictate the current, narrow ESOL policy remit. These range from so-called ‘soft’ outcomes such as independence, confidence and self-determination, to more tangible benefits such as better access to healthcare and education (and hence better health and better qualifications).

The full report is available from Demos here.

Easton Jubilee

I just wanted to share a story from the week before half term. We were doing the first session of going to the doctors. At the local surgery, if you want an appointment for the same day, you have to wait for a call back from the GP to assess how urgent your need is. This involves being able to explain to the GP what the problem is. We had just modelled a phone conversation using this scenario, when one of the women approached me. She explained that she was currently expecting a call from the GP as her daughter was unwell. Her problem was that she didn’t know how to explain over the phone what was wrong. I was able to give her some key words to use for the part of the body affected (which we hadn’t covered earlier in the session) and words to describe what was wrong. A short while later she left the session to take the call from the GP. When she came back in she was so happy – she had been able to explain exactly what the problem was, the GP had understood and given her an appointment for her daughter for later that day.

Trescom Research and Consultancy

In addition to running a Creative English class, Trescom received a grant from the Creative English Innovation Fund to set up a Sewing Club to help bring the local community together by exploring the textile history of the area.

The learner below told us about how she volunteers to help the Sewing Club after taking part in the Creative English class.

In March 2014, I met Baljit [Trescom’s Project Support Officer] in one of the community centres in Bradford. She told me about the Creative English class and it sounded like a really fun way to learn English. I could speak some English already, but I had very low confidence when I was speaking with professionals. I joined the class and loved it. Now I am volunteering with Trescom and teach sewing to between 14 and 18 students every Thursday morning.

Harold Road Centre

The Harold Road Centre had previously been running an accredited English class until funding was cut, and decided to continue with informal English classes to complement their Literacy class. They felt Creative English offered the holistic experience they desired, and many of their learners now continue their experience through a newly-formed conversation club.

Pavana is a 45-year-old Indian lady who has spent many years living in the north of Italy. English is not her second language – it’s roughly her fourth! And she’s only been in the country for about 8 months.

This week, she told me that she is much more confident in speaking English ever since she started. She has readily joined in and she really enjoys the class. She said she had used what she has learned at her children’s school, the optician, the doctor and the dentist. She was also able to tell me she had begun volunteering in the crèche at her local primary school.

Community Resources

The Community Resources Hub in Dagenham works to build community cohesion in its local area. It is primarily staffed by local volunteers who are passionate about sharing in the development of their community.

Sally Dixon, the Hub’s facilitator, told us about one of their learners.

Elsa has been coming to class for 8 months now. She has excellent English – which she taught herself by watching TV – but her confidence is low. Last week, I asked her if she would consider volunteering for me at the class as I don’t want to lose her but the class is a bit basic because I have so many beginners. I could not have predicted the level of enthusiasm with which she greeted the invitation! It made me realise how powerful it is to show someone that you have faith in them.

Pendle Women’s Forum

Pendle Women’s Forum support the women of the Pendle area with advice and guidance. In addition to running a Creative English class, they have also received a grant from the Creative English Innovation Fund for their ‘Cook, Chai, Chat’ project, where women work together to bake cakes and put on afternoon tea for the community.

They told us the story of a learner that joined their Creative English class after giving her time to the Cook, Chai, Chat project.

After taking part in ‘Cook, Chai, Chat’, the lady also decided to attend the Creative English classes and other classes held at the forum. She has commented on how happy she is that she attended and has had the opportunity to meet new people.

Currently, she is still a regular attendee of the Creative English classes and she has signed up to Level 1 ESOL classes. We are pleased to report that she also found employment at a bakery, which she thoroughly enjoys.

Oasis Drop-In Centre

The Oasis Drop-in Centre serves as a place of both community and learning, helping people find the local services they need and supporting them to gain better confidence and language skills.

The team at the Oasis Centre told us about a mother-daughter pair that joined their Creative English class together.

“Amina” and her daughter “Mariam” arrived in the UK about 3 months ago straight from Afghanistan. They joined our Creative English class on the fourth session as we began lessons on health. Both were obviously keen to learn and seemed to enjoy the next session, again on health.

After a break for half-term, “Mariam” told us how her mother had spent a week in hospital following a heart attack. She had communicated with the medical and nursing staff using the English she had learned in those two classes. She was very proud of herself and it was noticeable how she had gained confidence in speaking English.

Project BME

Project BME provide numerous services, from advice and advocacy and mentoring to training and capacity-building for other organisations, across Lancashire. Their Creative English class is run at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in Blackburn.

Programme leader Zed Ali told us about some of those involved in the class:

Karim said Creative English classes would allow them to integrate and make new friends and allow them to have conversations with their children in English and eventually lead to enhancing their speaking skills to seek employment.

A group of 5 women told me that they had really enjoyed themselves and felt that they will be able to make some positive changes. They said it was really a fun way of increasing their ability to speak English.

Maria said she liked the ‘doctor and nurses’ roleplay the best as it made her laugh out loud.

West London Refugee And Migrant Women’s Forum

Souri stands out due to her commitment, energy and willingness to go above and beyond and use the Creative English methodology to meet the wider needs of the participants she works with. The first training that she attended as part of her involvement in the programme focused on using drama for language learning. Souri had an extremely open, positive attitude that meant that not only did she get the most out of the training, but that she inspired other trainees to push themselves and see the potential of using drama in their communities. Souri has facilitated sessions that have enabled women to access healthcare without relying on a translator or family member for the first time. The learners she has worked with have increased in confidence and would find it difficult to access English language provision without the sessions she provides.

Loxford Children’s Centre

The Creative English class at the Loxford Children’s Centre in Ilford is led by Sue Griffin, who has written about her experiences before. Last year, local MP Mike Gapes came to a class to see how Creative English is changing people’s lives.

Sue told us about one of her learners who started volunteering to help her with another class.

Sarbjit came to my class in Redbridge every week, and it was clear that her English was good, although she was very quiet and nervous.  When my class in Newham was being set up, I needed a volunteer but it was not an area I’m familiar with. I considered all the people in my Redbridge class with a view to inviting someone to work with me.  Of those I asked, Sarbjit expressed the most enthusiasm.

So every week, I pick her up and we drive to Newham.  She sets up the room, registers people, translates for me into Punjabi, Urdu or Hindi and has even looked up Bengali words on Google so that she can understand our students from Bangladesh. She acts in our drama sketches and participates in all the games. The students like her a lot.