Asha has offered English language classes to asylum seekers since 2011, thanks to our partnership with Keele University’s Language Centre.
Classes taught by Keele students have been popular but with an ever-increasing number of asylum seekers arriving with little or no English, the task of teaching them was supported by teaching volunteers.
In 2018, funding was secured for a project to equip these volunteers with the knowledge and resources needed to teach beginner-level English, under the guidance of Dr Barbara James and Russell Clark from Keele.
Last February, shortly before Lockdown in March 2020, Keele Language Centre in association with Asha, hosted a training event led by John Sutter, Director of Learning Unlimited and funded by the Education and Training Foundation. The event was well attended with representation from a majority of local ESOL providers. The focus was on the crossover area between Literacy and A0 Beginner English, a field which is currently undergoing a significant amount of research. Then, the March Lockdown and teaching ceased.
Happily, Dr Barbara James, a former trustee and long-term Asha volunteer, and Keele’s Language Learning Unit, was soon into the task of setting up online learning to enable student teachers at Keele University and volunteer teachers at Asha to deliver classes to asylum seekers. Keele staff continue to test students before allocating them to be taught by TESOL students one of two classes of eight students each.
Barbara introduced volunteer teachers to the operational features of teaching online, while Keita refers asylum seekers wanting to learn English. They, too, are tested before being introduced to a volunteer teacher.
The programme is developing within the constraints of lockdown and social distancing, and the need for more laptops and tablets for students.
For anyone who would like to teach English, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and for anyone wanting to learn English, contact email@example.com or call down to Asha on a Thursday morning and speak to Keita and he will arrange for level testing to be carried out.
Asha welcomes donations of laptops and tablets which will be cleaned before being given to an asylum seeker.