National award for project which helps refugees to learn English

TESOL Ellie Johnston refugees

A joint project run by the University of South Wales and the Welsh Refugee Council which helps refugees and asylum seekers to learn English has been named Community Project of the Year.

Students on the University’s TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses have been teaching on the scheme, which was established to improve access to free quality English classes for refugees in the area.

The project, which now delivers eight classes a week to more than 100 people every week, was recognised at this year’s Inspire Adult Learning Awards.

During term time, classes are delivered at the Welsh Refugee Council (WRC)’s Cardiff base by the final year TESOL students, who use the project to gain practical teaching experience.

Watch a video on the project here:

Dr Mike Chick, Senior Lecturer in TESOL at the University of South Wales, said: “Our students now do all of their live teaching practice at the Welsh Refugee Council, and one of the really rewarding aspects is that a number of those who have taught on the project have continued to volunteer, even after graduating.

“It’s great to know that this experience has had such an impact on them that they have continued to give their time as teachers of English to these people who are so grateful for this opportunity.”

Iona Hannagan Lewis, Project Co-ordinator at the Welsh Refugee Council, said: “It has been fantastic to see the project blossom in a way we never imagined.

“These classes really are a lifeline for new arrivals in the area. They are particularly helpful for those who have missed out on an opportunity in Further Education, or who have aspirations towards Higher Education.”

USW student Ellie Johnston, who teaches on the project, added: “I don’t think I will ever meet more motivated learners. They are just so eager to learn, and although we don’t know what they have been through and how they got here, they walk in with a smile on their face every single week, and it’s an absolute pleasure to teach them.

“We see these people on the news, and as a nation we have dehumanised them. They are people, just like you and I, who are desperate for a chance to better themselves. I’m proud to be a small part of that.”

For more information on studying TESOL at the University of South Wales, click here.