STUDENTS & TEACHERS
Today 80+ students come to our Saturday lessons. At least 15 volunteers teach 3 ability levels in general classes, with special groups for children and medical English. Three or four teachers work with each group, planning lessons together but teaching once in every third or fourth week. Non-teaching volunteers organise the registration, time-keeping, refreshments and the student library.
Our students are diverse, from many backgrounds with varied levels of literacy and education.
They range from:
- refugee children about to start in a South African school, needing language to cope socially and educationally,
- matric pupils wanting to improve their chances of a good pass in English,
- foreign professionals like engineers and doctors who need to improve their English to work or study further,
- those who just want to speak better English to improve their life chances,
- our South African students who want to improve their spoken English to increase their employability or chances of studying after school.
Some students speak no English at all, but our teachers cope gently and patiently, always with some degree of success. As well as South Africa, students come from many countries, currently including Mozambique, Comores, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Somalia, Egypt and Ukraine.
We understand the difficulties our students have with getting to class on time and attending regularly. Many walk long distances or work as security guards the night before their lesson. Life for an asylum seeker and refugee is often harsh and unpredictable.
Teachers have become skilled at providing an oasis of calm in fractured lives, making lessons fun and coping with whatever is presented. We are proud of the stand we take against xenophobia, a growing problem in South Africa, with refugees and local students learning together and socialising during lessons.
TALK ENGLISH teachers are all volunteers, mostly CELTA (Cambridge English and Durban Language Centre) or TEFL-trained. Some are professional teachers but others work or study in other fields. All find it immensely satisfying to teach really keen students and witness their progress, not only in speaking English, but also in improving their lives. Teachers meet once a month for planning and professional development
TALK ENGLISH teachers, well known for their resourcefulness and versatility, are increasingly asked to work with other organisations. Some teach English to refugee women and refugee children about to start school. Tuition is also given to isiZulu-speaking children entering English medium schools and to township High School students for them to study further in South African or foreign English-medium universities.
When TALK ENGLISH teachers teach for other organisations, a small amount of their fee goes back to the project to meet running costs. In 2012, with these funds and donations from local organisations and individuals we were able to employ a part-time administrator to support our hard-working volunteers.
We plan to raise funds to set up a small office with basic resources and equipment where teachers can meet, prepare lessons, download web-based materials and photocopy for their classes.