At English for Action we migrated our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) online from the first week of the lockdown. The advantage of it has been that some students, who had found it unable to come to the classes in person are now able to join them online. One student, for example, was moved away from London into temporary accommodation and the change in delivery has enabled her to come.
Unfortunately, some students have been unable to join the classes. This is due to a number of reasons; one of which is digital poverty. We have tried to help students by buying the internet for them, however, despite this, a lack of digital skills has proved an insurmountable barrier for some. Having the appropriate technological resources has also not helped those, who live in overcrowded housing, and were unable to join due to lack of space.
We have worked hard to ensure that as many students were able to join as possible. We made instructional videos on how to download and set up Zoom in different languages and provided technical support on the phone.
Our online lessons have, as always, been centred around our students lives. We have spoken about mental health during the lockdown, the difficulties of home-schooling and having children at home all the time without being able to go outside much. Work and housing have also been prominent topics. We looked the government’s job retention scheme and its conditions and rules, practised writing a letter to ask a company for re-employment after being made redundant, looked at rules and vocabulary around evictions and practised writing a letter to landlords to ask for a suspension of rent payments. Migrants rights has also been a common topic in our classes. We have been sharing the teaching resources we have developed with the wider community.