Action

At English for Action we are committed to taking action to make the world a fairer, more equal place. This starts in the classroom, where we challenge hierarchy, discuss the burning issues of the day, develop critical analysis skills and learn the language that will enable our participants to effect change. We also take action outside the classroom, collectively and as individuals, to make positive changes to the world around us. Here are some examples of recent action:

Community Languages

Why is it that when a child in Kensington and Chelsea speaks French and English it is a wonderful thing and when a child in Newham speaks Somali and English it is seen as a handicap? Many of our participants' children are bilingual and we need to celebrate this. Our community languages are a resource, not a hindrance. In Surrey Square we took action to celebrate our linguistic diversity. We organised a "teach-out" during the school's identity week. Parents organised themselves into pairs and went into a the classrooms in the school to teach their languages. On the syllabus: Pashtu, Bengali, Albanian, French, Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, Spanish and Amharic. They did a fabulous job, made their children proud and made a strong case for teaching community languages at the school. A school needs to look and sound like the community it represents. Let's get community languages higher up the pecking order!

Integration and Racism

In May 2013 English for Action published its report into integration called "Whose Integration?" The report looked at what integration means to our students. What does it mean practically? What are the barriers? What helps? We discovered that integration makes much more sense locally, where people want to fit it, than nationally, where the notion becomes abstract and contested. Just days before we finished the report the Woolwich killing made our work all the more pressing. There was a surge in support for the EDL and a sharp rise in racist attacks. Our students, many of whom are Muslims, want to challenge this increase in racism and Islamaphobia. Teachers and students have discussed the issues in classes, signed a petition against the EDL and attended anti-fascist marches and rallies.

Immigration Legal Advice

In November 2012, 12 students from the Camberwell Islamic Centre attended a the national Disaspora assembly. English for Action was one of over 100 churches, mosques, charities and ethnic groups represented at the assembly. Among other things, we voted to launch the New Citizens Legal Advice Service. The service aims to provide good quality, affordable, immigration legal advice. The cut in legal aid for immigration advice has seen a proliferation of cowboy solicitors exploiting people's desperation. English for Action have already sent three people for an initial, free consultation. We are setting up free workshops in the communities in which we work, so that our participants can make informed decisions about their future.