People from all over the world make England their home - over 300+ languages are spoken across the land - and over one million people speak English only a little or not at all. Some of these people may have lived in England for many years and just not had the opportunity or confidence to learn the language. In many cases, they are women whose role has been largely to manage the home and for cultural or religious reasons they may not have ventured far beyond it. They rely on their husbands or children to interpret for them for shopping or when they need to go the doctor. We know that many of these women face multiple barriers to taking part in education and the wider community. One of our tutors, Farah, explains.
“Many women will never have been to school in their own countries and so are completely unfamiliar and often intimidated by the idea of learning - even in the informal setting of a language club. It really helps that I am an Asian woman, too and they can relate to me and together we build trust and confidence.
Because I know and am part of the community, I can spread the word amongst people I know and explain about language clubs which can filter back to those women at home who may decide that after years bringing up their family, they do have time now to learn, or for some, the idea of being able to help their children or grandchildren with their homework is a big motivator.
Once they come to a language club, we can start building confidence and usually their progress is amazing and so many say how happy they are that they no longer have to rely on their husband to translate for them.
From my experience I believe the key is to have a trusted community member working with the language club to encourage these harder to reach groups of learners to come to the club in the first place, after that learning the language is easy!"