Swansea University offers free English language course

Swansea University’s English Language Training Services (ELTS) is working with a voluntary organisation to improve the accessibility of English language courses to adults within Swansea.

Targeting parents and adults who are from overseas, ELTS is providing newly-graduated tutors to teach basic communication and life skills to UK citizens who may not be able to communicate in English.

“It’s often the case that people from overseas find it hard to mix and become involved with local communities because of the language barrier” says Shehla Khan, manager of Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST).

“At EYST, it’s been the case that some first generation immigrants may only be able to speak Bengali, but their children, who were born and have gone through the education system here, may only be able to speak English. It’s a sad situation when parents are unable to communicate with their own children.

“Luckily, Swansea University are providing qualified teachers to us which enables men and women to become more fully integrated with the community, talk with their younger family members and become more confident.”

Kevin Child, Head of English Language Training Services, Swansea University said:

 “ELTS’ collaboration with EYST has proved to be very motivating for all of us working on the project, and our team of developing trainers have clearly delivered an outstanding programme for the organisation. Not only has this opportunity provided a much needed service to the local BME community, and excellent post training development for graduates of the Swansea CELTA but highly focused professional career development opportunities for Swansea University ELTS’ staff also.

"This kind of community based service is always high on our agenda, as we see ourselves as much a part of the community of the City of Swansea as we are a department within the University; along with EYST, this year, we have also worked with Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group and OXFAM Wales in delivering English language and Teacher Training activities. To receive such positive feedback from stakeholders is very rewarding.”

EYST hold classes, for men and women, once a week at their base on St Helen’s Road. Tutor, Barny Harper, says that the classes are very empowering for the students.

“The students come from all over the world; Iraq, China, Hong Kong, Sudan, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Somalia, Syria, Spain, South Korea and the Yemen. All the students are different ages with vastly different backgrounds, and they each bring something different to the class.

“The diversity is something you wouldn’t experience anywhere else and from a teaching perspective. There’s a fantastic vibe here, we all get on really well and every student returns week after week and it’s wonderful seeing them grow in confidence and ability.”

 The two organisations see themselves as integral to the development of the students. EYST provide the safe learning environment and equipment, the teachers receive valuable teaching experience, and ELTS’ mentors make sure the newly-graduated teachers are able to continue to hone their skills with guidance available for teaching methodology, resources and ideas.

“There’s normally a stigma attached to being an adult learner, especially in some other cultures” says Shehla, “but all are welcome to the men’s and women’s classes here.”

“We hope that in time, our students can progress onto other English courses provided by other agencies. Our target is to get adults into the classroom. Once we can raise their level of English to a suitable level, they can go on to study more formally recognised courses, such as English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL).”

The men’s class run every Tuesday from 11am – 1pm, and starting on Wednesday 30th January for women from 1pm – 3pm.

Anyone who wishes to job the free classes, or for more information, should contact EYST on 01792 446980 or call in to 12 St Helen’s Road, Swansea.