Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Prime Minister wants everyone to learn English, but cuts funding

The Prime Minister has said that all new immigrants in Britain must speak English, but funding for ESOL courses are being cut. 
  • How are people going to work if they can't speak English?
  • How are people going to learn English if they can't afford to pay £600 for a course?
 Of the 195,000 people on college and community group Esol courses in England, an estimated 100,000 will lose out after the funding rules are changed.

'Roushon Choudhury, a mother of three from Bangladesh who is now at Tower Hamlets College, summed up the feelings of desperation of many on the breadline. "I went for a job interview last year. But they said my English wasn't good enough. They advised me to improve it. My husband gets very little money. How can I study if I have to pay for it? And if I can't improve my English, how can I get a job?"'    from the Guardian January 2011 - read more here.

Teachers of basic English classes – known as English for speakers of other languages or ESOL – said the vast majority of their students were housewives whose husbands would not be able to afford for them to study part-time at £400 or £500 a year.

"We think that this change could mean that about half of all ESOL students in some cities will be shut out from attending lessons," said Judith Kirsh from the National Association for Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults, the professional association for ESOL teachers.

from the Guardian April 2011 - read more here.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Prime Minister says that immigrants should learn English

Prime Minister David Cameron says that whilst the previous Labour government were in charge, immigration was the highest it has ever been in British history. He claims that 2.2 million more people settled in Britain between 1997 and 2009 than left Britain to go and live abroad. Cameron says that this has placed serious pressure on schools, housing and the NHS, and has also created social pressures.

"Real communities are bound by common experiences forged by friendship and conversation, knitted together by all the rituals of the neighbourhood, from the school run to the chat down the pub. And these bonds can take time," he says.

"So real integration takes time. That's why, when there have been significant numbers of new people arriving in neighbourhoods, perhaps not able to speak the same language as those living there, on occasions not really wanting or even willing to integrate, that has created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods. This has been the experience for many people in our country – and I believe it is untruthful and unfair not to speak about it and address it."

read more on The Guardian website 

Mr Cameron has not yet announced any plans to halt the serious cuts to the ESOL which will prevent people from learning English and enrolling on college courses in September. We can expect to hear more comments on his speech soon.....

Photos from the Hopwood Hall College MIF ESOL project in Rochdale 2011

The Migration Impact Fund ESOL project in Rochdale ended on 31st March 2011. Boo hoo. Here are a few photos from the parties at the main centres: Hebron Church, KYP and Freehold Community Centre.

Freehold Community Centre - Students enjoying the food!

My students at KYP looking as mean and moody as me!
To see all the photos from the Rochdale MIF project certificate parties - click here!

Students singing at the end of term party at the MIF ESOL project at Freehold Community Centre, Rochdale.

Singing at the end of term party: parts 1 & 2 (with some terrible camera work!) The sound cuts out on the first one but the singing is great in both!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Texting improves children's spelling

Can anyone understand what this says in text language?

Children who text on their mobile phones are the best spellers

It appears that children who text regularly may be better spellers and readers.

A study, published today by the British Academy, says teachers and parents should embrace texting as a means of improving their children's phonological awareness.

For instance, a child who texts gr8 to a friend often actually knows how to spell the longer form of the word. 

Researchers also noted an that texters knew which words rhymed. 

Examiners have complained of the growing use of text language in exam answers, but Dr Clare Wood, a reader in development psychology at Coventry University, who carried out the research, said, "We were surprised to learn that texting was driving the development of reading skills in children.... Texting also appears to be a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, which helps them to practise reading and spelling on a daily basis."

 read more on the Independent website here

article originally highlighted in skillsworkshopblog

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Action for ESOL day at Hopwood Hall College

Lots of fun and activities at the Action for ESOL day at Hopwood Hall College, Rochdale. Students and staff dressed in traditional clothes, shared delicious food from their own countries, played music and had lots of fun.
Can anyone guess the traditional dress on show here?

How about these guys? What country do they come from?
 Lots more photos on the Hopwood Hall College Ning social networking site here

ITV Granada News on how ESOL funding cuts effect learners at Hopwood Hall College, Rochdale.

Granada News report on how cuts to ESOL funding will effect learners at Hopwood Hall College, Rochdale.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Job centres targeting ESOL learners to cut benefits

People with poor English skills were often targeted in (this Job Centre) office. "For example, an African man who had managed to get part-time work and was studying English. His jobsearch was far more adequate than most, but managers specifically spent time going through it and comparing it to his agreement to see where they could trip him up. It was deemed inadequate and he was sanctioned. It's easy to sanction these people because he didn't know what was going on."

Another jobcentre employee with several years' experience said: "If staff are chasing targets, they will themselves target the easiest [claimants], for example people with learning disabilities, or people with English as a second language. It's the easiest way to meet those targets under pressure."

read more in the Guardian article here

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Why some Polish people are going home

For some Poles, the British adventure has ended in poverty, crime – or just disillusionment

 The Guardian,
Adam hated the food in the UK. "The bread tastes like plastic. In Poland the food is natural, real, with a lot of fruit and vegetables. We don't have much money in Poland, but once a week my mum will fry a chicken, and serve it with fresh vegetables, cucumber, tomatoes. The rest of the time we eat fresh soup," he said. "Here you buy food frozen and put it in a microwave."

He hated the food in the UK. "The bread tastes like plastic. In Poland the food is natural, real, with a lot of fruit and vegetables. We don't have much money in Poland, but once a week my mum will fry a chicken, and serve it with fresh vegetables, cucumber, tomatoes. The rest of the time we eat fresh soup," he said. "Here you buy food frozen and put it in a microwave."
The only thing he acquired a taste for in England was baked beans, which he liked mainly because they were cheap.

After six months he was made redundant because of a downturn at the company. He was one of the first to go because he still spoke almost no English. He tried to find a new job, but without English it seemed impossible. At first he stole to pay the rent, but Burton is a small place, and shop assistants began to call the police when they saw him. He had to leave the shared flat, and started sleeping at railway stations or in the park.
He moved to London, because he thought things might be easier in the capital, but Polish workers there were queuing for a handful of jobs.

see the full story here in The Guardian

Monday, 4 April 2011

Rochdale MP supports Hopwood Hall College fight for ESOL funding

Rochdale MP supports Hopwood Hall College fight for ESOL funding: read more in Rochdale Online

Mr Danczuk spoke in support of provision of ESOL as a means to ensure people are able to speak, understand, read and write English, and integrate effectively into UK culture. He was particularly pleased to hear the students’ desire to learn English so that they could effectively integrate into the workforce and transfer their skills and education to the UK workplace; he also highlighted the net value to the economy of educating newly arrived groups.

Save ESOL protest in London

top 100 spelling mistakes in English

Here are the top 100 most common spelling mistakes in English according to

  • acceptable - Several words made the list because of the suffix pronounced -√™bl but sometimes spelled -ible, sometimes -able. Just remember to accept any table offered to you and you will spell this word OK.
  • accidentally - It is no accident that the test for adverbs on -ly is whether they come from an adjective on -al ("accidental" in this case). If so, the -al has to be in the spelling.
All the way through to:

  • until - I will never stop harping on this until this word is spelled with an extra [l] for the last time!
  • vacuum - If your head is not a vacuum, remember that the silent [e] on this one married the [u] and joined him inside the word where they are living happily ever since. Well, the evidence is suggestive but not conclusive. Anyway, spell this word with two [u]s and not like "volume."
Here is the full list - 100 most common spelling errors - but watch out for the American spellings... extra points for anyone who notices any differences between British and American spellings.

Here are a couple of spelling tests, see how well you do:

Fabio Capello says 100 English words are all you need

England's Italian football manager Fabio Capello claims he can manage his players with just 100 words. So how far could you get with a vocabulary of that size?

Not very far, says Peter Howarth, deputy director of Leeds University's language centre.
"It's a ridiculously small number, you could learn 100 words in a couple of days, particularly when you're in the country surrounded by the language," he says.
Kick! Goal! Please!
"People do say that from a learner's point of view, English is relatively easy to use without too much grammar... but Fabio Capello needs a range, presumably, and to communicate emotions and a bit of nuance."

Read more on the bbc website here

Watch Fabio using his 100 words in the video: