Sharing Lives, Sharing Languages

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Emily Bryson is a college ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) lecturer who is working with Scottish Refugee Council on a new pilot project to help non-native English speakers increase their social connections and opportunities to learn English. Here she tells us more about the project:

I started teaching ESOL in Glasgow in 2006, first as a volunteer and more recently as a lecturer at City of Glasgow College. One of the burning questions I had as an ESOL practitioner was “How do I get my students using their English more outside of the classroom?” 
I frequently noticed the contrast between students who had more opportunities to speak English outside the classroom, such as those working, volunteering, or attending social clubs, and those that were more isolated. 

And that’s why I’m excited to have the chance to manage the new pilot project Sharing Lives, Sharing Languages with Scottish Refugee Council, funded by the Scottish Government.

In my role, I will support four organisations in different local authorities to recruit and train peer educators who wish to support non-native English speakers to increase their social connections and opportunities to practise their English. The four organisations are Dundee International Women’s Centre, Midlothian Council, Renfrew YMCA, and the Workers’ Educational Association in Aberdeenshire.  

Peer educators can be from any background. They may be non-native speakers that have lived in Scotland for a long time and have a good level or English, or they may be native English speakers that simply want to support their non-native English-speaking peers. 

Through the project, peer educators will assist people to identify their goals for the future and their social interests. They will then help participants to link in with local social clubs, volunteering or employment opportunities, or local events, helping increase their social connections and the chance to improve their English. 

This pilot project intends to complement existing ESOL provision and will run until summer 2017. Afterwards we will share best practice with other organisations to help them to establish similar projects.
So far the interest and enthusiasm for this project has astounded me. And I can’t wait to see all the different ideas to help their ESOL learners speak English outside the classroom. 

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