On the Wednesday morning of the 19th of June I was fortunate enough to attend one of East Lothian Council’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class. Run by Andy Stuckey, the lesson took place on the grounds of Musselburgh Burgh Primary School, providing the class with the perfect setting to learn English.
On the day of my visit, the class was small, containing only four students, all of whom came from varying backgrounds, and were learning English for many different reasons. This small class size proved to be very useful, as it allowed for a more personalised lesson. It was very interesting to see just how varied the members of the class were. Nonetheless, there was a warm, positive, supportive vibe in the room, with all class members, and the tutor, supporting and helping each other as much as possible. it made me feel instantly welcome.
Experiencing the class, even for the short hour out of an hour and a half lesson that I was there for, led me to have many questions, which I passed to Andy Stuckey, head of the ESOL programme in East Lothian Council. From this, I learnt that there are several forms of classes; there is ‘ESOL in Schools’, which is an additional service run to meet the needs of parents/carers of English as an Additional Language (EAL) children within the school environment, there is also evening classes (and a day class on Mondays) from the employability service, which has seven classes running, taught by four tutors, and a small outreach service run by volunteer tutors. The idea is to reach as many learners as possible. The courses themselves are completely free to students, making them accessible to all.
The class itself was incredibly interesting, mixing aspects of a traditional lesson and interactive group work. The focus of the day’s lesson was on verb patterns, specifically gerunds versus infinitives and when they would be used. The class was fast paced, with lots of physical examples to aid understanding. This method of teaching kept the class engaged, and I found myself learning aspects of the English language that I didn’t know myself, even as a native English speaker! I was incredibly impressed with the level of English from the students in the class; while not as confident in certain areas of the language, they had clearly grasped a good understanding of English, and were driven and inspired to continue their learning.
I wish the class the best of luck in finishing their course. From what I could see I have no doubt that they will do very well. If you have any questions about the ESOL programme, contact Andy Stuckey – firstname.lastname@example.org – who will be able to give you more information.