Thanks to Graham Wroe for highlighting the Government’s intention to cut funding for ESOL (English as a Second Language) courses.
I worked in higher education for years and know the value of these courses to overseas students.
However, it was not until I met a lady from overseas who had been living and legally working in a different part of the country for several years that I realised how valuable these courses are to people not in education and needing help with language skills to obtain work.
I became involved in helping the lady through the application process and became familiar with the tutors and their work.
ESOL courses are already extremely intense and cover many subjects of help to the students, teaching them not only to understand the language better but to understand many everyday work-based and social interactions as well.
The tutors are dedicated and have to work extremely hard as they have up to 20 students all of different nationalities and abilities in a class.
There are very strict rules to make sure that the students attend the courses on a regular basis and so do not waste time and money.
Whilst I was helping “my overseas lady” through the maze of resettling into this city (which incidentally also entailed her getting to grips with our unique local accent) it amazed me how some of the ESOL applicants ever find their way onto a course.
Not only do they have to go through the application process but find their way round several parts of the city to different official departments and colleges mainly via our transport system, and usually without an English-speaking person with them.
Perhaps, instead of cutting funding there should also be extra funding for a small team of trained escorts to help overseas people through the ESOL application process.
Like it or not, we now live in an international country and that situation is certain to increase in the future.
ESOL courses and their funding should be increased so that everyone wishing to reside and work in this country should have to attend.
It would be a great advantage to the economy by making sure that overseas people have the basics for finding proper work and making a valid contribution to the country.