“We can talk of our stresses and we talk like family”,Everyday English Participant.
Over lockdown our Community Support and Development team in Moredun have continued their Everyday English group online. This group has provided a vital space for women from ESOL backgrounds to connect, encourage each other and learn together.
The group is a chance for the women to practise their English and be a supportive place when other opportunities within the community are so limited in the days of lockdown. Bethany staff lead the group with support from trained English language teaching volunteers and from group members themselves. The weekly conversational sessions can be adapted to engage any language level, discussing themes such as health, coronavirus and changing rules, education, children, family, personal stories and food, as well as aspects of living in Scotland.
Help With Homeschooling
Supporting children’s learning, especially during lockdown, has been a huge concern for some of these parents who feel they do not have adequate English or understanding of the education system. Bethany, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, also run an online homework club each week for the children of ESOL families, with most of the children’s mothers coming to the English class.
Where we can, we have helped provide devices for some of the women with grant funds. The devices have proved to be helpful for both the women and for children doing home learning where digital poverty is a real issue.
More Than Just a Class
Bethany staff support these women beyond the weekly classes and try to work in a joined up way and in partnership with others, offering practical and relational support through phone calls, doorstep visits, walks together and food support. One woman says, “I love this group. It is not only for English. Every day I can ask for help without appointment”.
The group has proved to be a platform for progression for some of the women, with several participants subsequently enrolling in Edinburgh College English courses.
In the midst of global and local restrictions, we are reminded so clearly of how important and foundational connection and communication are, and the success of the ‘Everyday English’ class goes far beyond either the physical or virtual classroom, being an invitation to build confidence, friendship, community and identity.