University students help non-native speakers in the community to improve their English skills

University of East London ESOL teachers with summer school students. Picture: UEL

University of East London ESOL teachers with summer school students. Picture: UEL - Credit: Archant

Current and former University of East London students are helping non-native speakers in the community to learn English skills with free lessons.

As part of their training as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers, six students helped deliver courses during a four-week summer school at the university's Stratford campus.

More than 50 people hailing from countries including Spain, Romania, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Greece, Sudan and Eritrea - many of whom live in Newham and Barking and Dagenham - took the opportunity to improve their English speaking, writing and listening skills.

Some of the youngest participants are refugees who are currently in foster care.

Many of the participants, who were aged 17 to 60, wanted to improve their daily lives or job prospects, or simply meet new people.

Elena Nemtanu, who comes from Romania and works as a cleaner, said: "I loved the course and the teachers were very good."

Baksho Pall said: "I was nervous at first but the teachers encouraged me and gave me support.

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"I will be coming back in October to look into a course called new beginnings."

The university was given funding by the Office for Students to deliver the training to its students and graduates.

The current students and recent graduates embarked on the ESOL course as it suited their studies and career aspirations.

Recent graduate Billy Tapsell-McAvoy said: "I start the PGCE in September and this will give me a head start in teaching experience.

"There are many refugees and non-native speakers in London, especially east London, so this will prepare me for teaching students whose first language isn't English.

"It has been an eye-opening experience for me."

Iram Ali added: "It has been great to see the journey that the residents have taken over these few weeks.

"In the beginning they just stared at us and were really shy, but now they have opened up to us and are talking a lot more.

"It feels good to be able to give something back to the local community."

From October, the students will also volunteer as English teachers with The Magpie Project for six to eight months.

The project supports mothers and children under five in temporary or insecure accommodation - many of whom are non-native speakers.