Providing English Classes

Language Is At The Heart Of Integration

Learning English is absolutely essential for successful integration. Without adequate English, the family will remain isolated, dependent and poor. With good English, they can - and do - go onto thrive in the UK. 

This is why it is a Home Office requirement for all adult family members to be receiving a minimum of 8 hours a week of English lessons for one year. It is also a condition of claiming benefits - and if the Job Centre isn't satisfied with the standard, commitment and progress, it can impose sanctions meaning the family will lose their income.   

So, one of the biggest responsibilities of any Community Sponsorship Group is to plan for English language provision.

(ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages)

Attached a snippet from our Lunch & Learn on Supporting English Language learning. Hear from Abdulrahman who arrived in the UK through resettlement and how he learned English. Rosie shares how she provided language support to refugees in the Middle East.

You can watch the full session with Q&A here.

Access Passcode: #NE^2kFh

Appointing an ESOL Lead

It is a good idea to have someone in the group in charge of ESOL provision. You will be responsible for finding and coordinating volunteer tutors, helping the family to register with formal classes, and monitoring progress. We recommend you start by reading Reset's helpful ESOL briefings.

Attached - Reset - Initial ESOL Briefing

Attached - Reset - ESOL Briefing In Depth

Formal ESOL Classes

As a first step, research what ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes are available at local colleges. Make a list of each class, with the following information:

  • Address, Website, Contact Details
  • What Levels do they teach?
  • What does it cost?
  • Are there places available?
  • What is the registration process for new students?
  • What are the term-dates and class times?
  • Can new students join classes after the term begins?
  • How many hours per week?
  • How does the college monitor progress?
  • Is childcare available?

Additional Tuition

Availability and quality of formal ESOL classes can patchy, particularly in rural areas. And some family members have found that the formal classes do need match their preferred learning style. So most Community Sponsorship Groups provide additional bespoke ESOL classes.

These could take place at the family's home - or even better, in a public space, such as the local library. This can to help to aid their social integration, get away from distractions (such as noisy children!), feel more formal, and keep the family home a private space. If you do meet publicly, you will need to consider childcare provision.

In order to meet the government requirement of eight-hours practice a week, tutors must have a formal qualification.

We advise you to recruit some volunteers into the group who have TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) experience and are willing to provide classes to the resettled family. Groups who have done a local 'shout out' for people with ESOL skills have generally found it relatively easy to recruit such volunteers. You could post leaflets on community notice boards, door-to-door, and advertise in local newspapers, volunteer websites, local universities, and social media.

Croeso Abergwan, a community sponsorship group in Fishguard, Wales, have produced a fantastic resource on teaching ESOL.

Attached - Community ESOL Guide

Conversation Practice 

You should also be planning for volunteers to do more informal 'conversation classes', to supplement ESOL provision. The volunteers who help in this way do not need training, just a willingness to help the refugees improve their English. 

There may be some local conversation clubs that the family can attend. Just as useful is spending time socialising and doing activities together, such as cooking a meal, going shopping and attending community events.

Watching TV is also a fantastic way to learn English, and learn about British culture. You may want to consider getting a second-hand TV donated, or budget for a new one. Don't forget to explain the TV license!

Useful Resources

Curriculum and tips for delivery

Online courses and signposts to classes in your area

Activities, videos, and articles to help improve English

A list of online resources for both teachers and students of ESOL

Attached - Community ESOL Guide

Attached - Reset - Initial ESOL Briefing

Attached - Reset - ESOL Briefing In Depth

Attached - Developing Literacy With Refugees

Filling out the Application Form: English for Speakers of Other Languages

1.5f. How will your group ensure that each resettled adult receives a minimum of eight hours of accredited ESOL each week during their first year in the UK? (150 words)

Please note that ESOL provision is an essential requirement as set out in the Statement of Requirements for Sponsors.      

EXAMPLE ANSWER: We’ll arrange for an assessment at the local ESOL college (NAME), within the first 2 weeks of arrival.

The college can provide up to 8 hours per week, from pre-entry level to Level 3. This is accredited. The cost is £X, which will be covered by the £850 ESOL grant from the Home Office.

X college also run evening classes, which the family may prefer to attend – particularly if they need to share childcare.

If the family arrive mid-term, our ESOL volunteers will provide additional sessions until they can start formal classes.

Our ESOL volunteers will arrange regular sessions for conversation practise and further tuition (preferably outside the home, to aid their social integration). These sessions will be practical and focus on specific subject according to goals identified by the family (e.g. Driving Theory test, grocery shopping, etc.).

The local library also runs a weekly Conversation Club.

1.5g. If the adults in the family you are supporting have had little or no formal education, what support with basic literacy and numeracy will you provide? (150 words)  

EXAMPLE ANSWER: X college offer basic literary and numeracy courses for adults.

The local masjid runs classes, where they can learn to read and write in Arabic.

We have reviewed our resources and how we communicate. For example, the welcome pack and fact sheet is pictorial, and we have record videos with important information.

We can use audio recordings through Google translate and  rather than written messages.

We will also review their preferred learning styles. For example, whether they would find it easier to learn English in through conversation practice and trips out, rather than a classroom setting. 

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