Last week I had the very great honour of attending the English My Way celebration event. It’s crazy how quickly the two years have passed since we started this programme and it’s crazy to see the huge impact it has had on people’s lives. And when I say crazy, I mean in a good way.
I’m proud to tell you that over 9000 people were supported by the UK online centres network through the programme to improve their lives and integrate more to become part of their community in the 38 areas of the highest language need across England. 70% of those learners progressed to an Entry Level 1 ESOL course.
It makes me smile that so many of the learners have improved their confidence thanks to the programme:
- 65% of them said they are now more confident talking to acquaintances
- 68% are more confident talking in shops or on public transport
- 61% are more confident in using their new English skills with doctors and other professionals.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to do something as simple as ask for a bus ticket to get into town, and I’m so happy that English My Way has been able to reach the people who couldn’t do this and make a real difference to their lives.
I’m a huge advocate for digital inclusion and the power digital has to eradicate social issues in society. But English My Way doesn’t just use digital to teach English language – it’s a blended learning programme. It understands what’s easier digitally and what’s better face-to-face, and uses this approach for the best and most efficient outcomes.
In January David Cameron announced a £20 million plan to help Muslim women learn English, to help tackle extremism, discrimination and social isolation. English language skills are of deepest importance and I believe that English My Way can help. The sustainability of English My Way and ESOL in general needs to be embedded in the skills agenda, both locally and with devolved authorities. Tinder Foundation is committed to supporting the delivery of ESOL in communities across the country and our dedication can be recognised through this programme. The evidence speaks for itself: one woman who participated in the project can now speak to her neighbours and invite them over for a cup of tea and another used her new language skills to secure her and her family’s future away from an abusive relationship – that’s just two of the people we’ve helped.
A big thank you
The event brought together people from all backgrounds who made the project happen – stakeholders, learners, consortium partners – and we showed our ‘Thank You English My Way’ video. We also launched the final evaluation report, our ESOL literature review and our brand new ESOL handbook which you can download here.
I want to thank everyone who was involved in the project, including the guys from the Tinder Foundation team. Everyone worked so hard on it and made it all possible. The day wasn’t just a celebration, it really highlighted the ongoing need for ESOL support and funding, and programmes like English My Way for everyone in communities all over the UK, not just for Muslim women.
I really hope that Tinder Foundation can be part of that support.