Friends for English
Friends for English is a (free) befriending project to practise English. Volunteer befrienders and learners meet one afternoon and one evening a week, in a classroom at Marvell House (provided by the Goodwin Trust). The project has proved to be very popular with both befrienders and learners, with over 500 people having taken part so far.
We have a weekly theme, plenty of tailor-made materials and support from the project coordinator, Karen van Diesen, who has years of experience working in the field of adult education in developing countries and with refugees and asylum seekers in Hull. Learners are helped to practise whatever they want, however they want. For example, in a matter of weeks an illiterate single mother of has learnt the basics of reading and writing thanks to a volunteer primary school teacher. After many years in England, this has been her only chance to learn to write more than her name. At the other extreme, a learner who asked to read a nineteenth century English classic, has been matched with an English Literature graduate. A health professional is getting help to get through the English exam (IELTS)he needs to pass before he can work in the UK. Others like to chat, moving naturally from topic to topic until they find a mutual interest. It is the first time many learners have made a friend outside of their community and the first time they have had up to three and a half hours a week dedicated to one-to-one (or two-to-one) language practice.
Eight of our befrienders recently attended a one-day training course at Hull College ESOL department. Building on this, we are currently organising 15 hours of basic teacher training aimed at befrienders, with any spare places being made available to people working on other English-language projects in Hull.
Friends for English is helping us to get to know the individual needs of learners, and this knowledge will help us to design future projects.
Come along to a session, if you would like to participate in this project as a befriender or a learner! Or contact us for further information.