Experts volunteer to provide free English classes for refugees

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English language teachers at Swansea University have been using their own time to offer free English classes to refugees who have arrived in Swansea, fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.

The refugees come from war-torn countries such as Syria, Eritrea and Sudan.    They include people of all ages: men, women and children.   

The Swansea University language experts are from English Language Training Services (ELTS), which teaches courses for students from overseas who need support with their English to begin and succeed in their studies.  

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Picture:  The ELTS team with some of the students in the class, who come from countries including Syria, Eritrea and Sudan

The ELTS team started offering the classes for refugees in October and have been very pleased with the uptake.  The team offer these courses in their spare time, on top of their normal teaching schedule.
For the refugees, language classes can be a lifeline.   Most refugees have no choice over which parts of the country they go to: they are placed by government under the so-called dispersal scheme.  

This means that in most cases they arrive in their new homes without any knowledge of the city or any contacts with people who live here.   Being able to speak even a little English can make a huge difference.  

Most of the refugees attending the Swansea classes spoke little or no English.  However, the ELTS team say that their students are keen to learn the language to help them adapt to life in Swansea and integrate into the community.
Joanne Parfitt, head of English Language Training Services, said:

“We recognised a need in the community for low-level English classes for people who may not be able to access fee-paying courses.

It feels good to provide something for free that will enable them to have a more promising experience whilst staying in Swansea.

The classes were so popular that we added an additional evening which are taught by our CELTA (certificate of English Language Teaching for Adults) graduates and qualified teachers.

We will be continuing this service for as long as it’s needed.”

ELTS is a British Council accredited language centre which offers Academic English Pre-sessional, Summer General English, Cambridge English Exams and Tailor Made Short Programmes plus CELTA courses.

English Language Training Services

Swansea City of Sanctuary project