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.
EFA was originally set up 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, one of our teachers, 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. Following this, 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 became a fully fledged charity with long-term funding that helped it negotiate the first couple of years. Over a decade later, our classes are now held in locations such as 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 ten trustees; twelve staff members around fourteen volunteers; as well as over four-hundred participants.
People are fully able to participate in and help create a just and equal society, regardless of where they are from.
To ensure migrants have access to action-orientated, participatory ESOL classes and community organising opportunities that equip them to bring about fundamental change.
Better and more ESOL provision and powerful ESOL communities with people who have improved language and community organising skills, higher confidence levels and a greater capacity to take action.
- London is an unequal city with unacceptable levels of poverty and we should try and change that.
- Migrants, particularly those with English as an additional language, are disproportionately the target of policies, systems and cultures that produce poverty and inequality.
- Language gives us the 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.