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It is Refugee Week and we are celebrating with a few examples of ESOL NI partnership initiatives and supported programmes through the ESOL VPRS Coordination Point and funded by the Department for the Economy.

Girdwood goes online – Belfast Met ESOL community delivery

Since the announcement of the lockdown measures by the UK government at the end of March 2020, all Colleges in Northern Ireland have been making an effort to engage with students so there is no complete break of learning progress during this period of self-isolation due to COVID-19.

The Belfast Met decided to take its community ESOL provision, normally successfully delivered at Girdwood Community Hub three terms per years at full capacity to groups of refugee mixed ability learners, to an online platform via the Zoom App.

As the demand for ESOL classes in Girdwood was still significantly high and learners were able to demonstrate their willingness, availability and access to technology in order to participate on an online version of the programme through a regional electronic survey conducted by ESOL NI with its learners, the decision was made to run the classes remotely.

The Belfast Met ESOL team recruited, enrolled and prepared the 18 students for the 6 weeks online programme delivered on Mondays and Wednesdays by the Belfast Met qualified ESOL tutor, Rebekah Smyth.

The students were delighted with the opportunity of having the classes during the period of lockdown and the teacher gave us incredibly positive feedback about the classes:

‘Today was the last class, so we are now finished- another successful course, well done! They were all really keen, it was good fun! Attendance was excellent, the students seemed happy. I think the online approach worked really well. I told them that when we know what’s happening next term, they will be notified by email and WhatsApp’ – Rebekah Smyth – Belfast Met ESOL tutor

Some of the community-based organisations have also been working with learners online and using available platforms to engage with students.

Women’s Centre Derry - We are continuing to deliver the English programme online to meet our commitments for the VPRS Home Office project. The Women’s Centre Derry has a VLE online facility and we are delivering a number of learning activities through this. The Syrian women on the programme are using the VLE to access their lessons and communicate with the tutor. This is a very important resource for them for their language and also to keep them connected and supported during this emergency. 

Conway Education Centre - We have been flat out with moving our services and courses to online platforms and communicating with our learners as best we can to make sure they are up to date not only with the new format of their classes but also with information on COVID-19.

All our ESOL classes are now moved to ZOOM and will start again in the week of Monday 30 March.

All ESOL courses have now moved to Zoom. We have given 10 refugee families and IPad to enable them to join the Zoom sessions. Learners are well used to Zoom and classes are going well. We also provide additional small group ESOL support sessions with max 3 learners at a time.

Our ESOL tutors are fantastic, they are delivering imaginative Zoom classes and made up a learning pack for each learner which we delivered at their doorstep. This also gave us a chance to check if the families needed any help with shopping/medication etc. We found that some of our more vulnerable and/or isolated ESOL learners are receiving support from other refugee families, usually someone from their ESOL class.

Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre – BURC also has pulled up their team of volunteers and released online programmes during the period of lockdown in partnership with ESOL NI.

Our Progressors classes are back!

Where? Online - email ESOL@burc.org to ask for the Zoom link to our virtual classroom

When? On Monday and Wednesday from 11 to 11:40am

Who? All learners from lower-intermediate upwards

The link will be emailed to you on Monday morning.

The online Volunteer induction and Training (OVIT) has been completed with seven volunteers, it proved interesting and produced useful resources and BURC is currently evaluating this.

Their online Conversation classes continue every Wednesday evening at 6:30pm. Everyone is very welcome to join, just email ESOL@burc.org to request the link to the virtual classroom.

Contact Us

    If you wish to enquire about anything, please feel free to contact us at:
  • Ligia Parizzi
  • LParizzi@belfastmet.ac.uk
  • 10 Girdwood Avenue
  • Belfast
  • BT14 6EG