Our story and values

EFA London provides English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for adult migrants in communities across London. Our aim is to reach people who may miss out on mainstream ESOL courses. We believe that ESOL classes, with the correct focus, can enable people to access the social, economic and political benefits that would be out of reach without language training and support. 

Read more about our classes, our teaching methods, our participants and how we support them to take action.

Our story

EFA London was originally set up in partnership with London Citizens. The first classes were set up by Dermot Bryers (CEO) and Camille Alsop (trustee) in order to support London Citizens' campaigning work, particularly the Living Wage campaign. The Living Wage campaign aims to secure an hourly rate for workers that reflects the real-life costs of living in London (and is higher than the National minimum wage). From conversations with hotel staff, Dermot realised that many of the workers that wanted to fight for fairer wages did not have the English skills to negotiate with their managers or organise their co-workers. Their lack of language left them frustrated and vulnerable to exploitation. And so Dermot set up an action-orientated ESOL course with Polish workers from the West London Hilton, supporting them to devise political and linguistic strategies to secure higher pay. Three years later, EFA London became a fully fledged charity with long-term funding that helped it negotiate the first couple of years. Our classes are now held in locations like schools, community centres, faith organisations and workplaces to reach people close to where they live or work. The charity has developed into a growing team of 9 trustees; 9 staff members and a host of volunteers as well as over 300 participants.

Our Vision

UK migrants have the language, skills and networks they need to bring about an equal and fair society ..

Our Mission

To build ESOL learning communities with the capacity to effect positive change beyond the classroom.

Our Charitable Objects

  1. To develop the capacity of migrant communities across London in such a way that they are better able to identify and help meet their needs and participate more fully in society.
  2. To advance the education of the public in the subject of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

We believe:

  • London is an unequal city with unacceptable levels of poverty and we believe we should try and change it.
  • Migrants, particularly those with English as an additional language, suffer disproportionately from the impact of poverty and inequality.
  • Language gives us power to change our lives.
  • ESOL should be accessible to all those who need it, irrespective of income or immigration status
  • We are better able to effect change as part of a group and ESOL presents an excellent opportunity to work on collective responses to issues that affect our lives

Our teaching approach:

  • Everyone in the group participates in decision-making, including decisions related to teaching and learning.
  • Language learning develops from students sharing their stories and experiences.
  • Students are encouraged to communicate meaningfully and share their opinions before focusing on accuracy and building new language. 
  • Students are encouraged to engage with issues in a critical way, asking questions and examining causes and consequences.
  • Students are supported to plan, take, and evaluate action to change their lives and communities for the better.
  • The classroom should be a place where friendships and supportive relationships can develop.

Our Annual Report