Online learning brings our ESOL families closer together07-July-2020
The whole of our curriculum has been affected by Covid-19 and where possible, we’ve moved our courses online. One such course has been our ESOL Family Learning class run in Swansea.
Our ESOL Family Learning class began in September 2019 - a partnership project with REACH+ and the African Community Centre. The course’s aim and purpose was to provide essential English language skills preparing parents for when their children started school, enabling parents to communicate effectively with the teachers of their children and to provide parents with the skills to help their children learn through play.
Karina Scott, Delivery Officer for Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales, outlined, “The accredited course was originally made possible as a result of our partnership working, and learners with young children who wouldn’t usually be able to attend ESOL classes had the opportunity to access learning for two hours per week, with child care provided by the African Community Centre and funded by the Financial Contingency Fund. Since September, 2019, ten learners of mixed ability have had the opportunity to gain accreditation, improve their English skills and develop tools to help their children learn.”
Before March 2020, the course was run at City Church, Dyfatty Street in Swansea. But with the closure of the venue coming as a result of Covid-19 lockdown measures, the course has since moved online.
Of the change, Karina highlights, “The learners have adjusted well, maintained good attendance and developed a range of digital literacy skills in the process - whilst continuing to include their children in their learning.”
Tutor, Clare Jones continued, ‘This is now quite a different class. Our face-to-face learning would ordinarily include a creche but now the reality is, there are babies in the class (who are very small) and sometimes a toddler needs attention. So the class tends to be less formal and less structured.”
Clare added, “The mums are very committed and while I had excellent attendance when we were face-to-face this has also continued online.”
Clare’s approach to the learning as well as those exercises which provide the course’s core have been reinvented for the online aspect as well as the nature of the course with its now ‘younger attendees’.
The learning has been very effective and has included sharing a selection of English language books at appropriate levels via a digital library website, making games with card, glue, and scissors, playing games - both homemade and shop bought - with the learner’s children, and ‘modelling’ how to share a book with a child and how to play a game.
Tutor Clare continued, “For online delivery, I have made a padlet [an online virtual “bulletin” board, where learners and tutors can collaborate, reflect, share links and pictures, in a secure location] that includes a new activity to do with the learners child each week during lockdown. Examples have included a recipe for playdough, making a rainbow for windows, making a 'den' with sheets and a table, making a 'tea party' with a cuddly toy etc. and activities focusing on healthy living.”
Clare is convinced that the online possibilities present other opportunities too: “The benefits of online classes have been ease of access and also the ability to mute members who are talking with children or toddlers! I actively encourage the mums to include their children in any activities or homework I set which has been lovely to see.
“Another lovely aspect of this class is the mums are able to encourage and affirm each other, and we have had opportunities to discuss bed times, controlled crying, digital devices etc, all whilst developing English language skills. Although classes are less predictable than more ‘regular’ ESOL classes, I love teaching these learners as they are so keen to get together online and learn – perhaps even more so now due to how we’ve adapted.”
The value of learning together is summed up by one of Clare’s learners: “‘I am grateful to learn this lesson. It helps me to know more about family things - something I will always remind my children of.”
A big thank you to Karina and Clare for sharing their story – keep up the fantastic work – bringing the learners and their family’s closer together through shared experiences - online.
If you are interested in learning more about our ESOL classes why not take a look today!
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