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ESOL Provision in the UK and Ireland: Challenges and Opportunities

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Edited By Freda Mishan

Situated within the context of unprecedented levels of inward migration to the UK and Ireland bringing with it all the complexities of integration, this volume focuses on a key aspect of this - language provision. Through the voices of stakeholders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL), this volume critically examines models of language provision and integration, the relationship between language and identity, developing ESOL practices and ESOL policy. A distinctive feature is the diversity of contributions, ranging from research studies to vignettes presenting living portraits of ESOL practice on the ground. The volume fills an urgent gap in this area, offering a snapshot of the ‘state of the art’ of ESOL in the UK and Ireland and projections of how the needs of new migrants can be addressed into the future.

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Vignette 2. ESOL outside the traditional classroom setting: The Language Café (Diana Tremayne)

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Diana Tremayne

Vignette 2ESOL outside the traditional classroom setting: The Language Café

[This is the first of two vignettes which aim to paint a picture of some of the ESOL provision which takes place in the UK outside of settings such as mainstream Further Education (FE) colleges or adult and community education providers.]

St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the north of England, has been providing a range of support for the local community for fifty years. ESOL classes are held there and the first Language Café took place in 2013. One of the key features was that it would be open to all, regardless of eligibility for ‘mainstream’ ESOL classes. The Language Café is run by volunteers, with the lead volunteer, Helen, being an ESOL teacher. The café is open to all and takes place every week in one of the classrooms in the centre and is preceded by a free community lunch which anyone can access.

At twelve o’clock the room is full of people eating homemade pasta from paper plates, some sitting alone, most chatting to someone. It’s a mixture of centre users and volunteers and most are regulars. The community lunch is open to all and some people head off when they have finished. The room is quite large, able to be divided into two if necessary, and has a hotchpotch of tables and chairs, a whiteboard, a large cupboard and displays of work which has...

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