Social isolation among immigrants to be tackled with English classes

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A NEW £6.5 million English language programme to help local authorities to meet the English language needs of their communities was announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick last week.

Building on the success of previous community-based programmes, the English for Speakers of Other Languages for Integration Fund will fund classes for up to 25 local authorities.

Mr Jenrick commented the scheme: “This government is committed to uniting and levelling up our country and that means building a rich and vibrant but integrated society.

“Learning English is essential to life and work in this country and people see huge benefits when they can speak our language fluently.

“We are making this requirement in our new British immigration system and funding for existing citizens who speak little or no English, providing further funding to help them learn English quickly and in doing so, play a full part in their local community.”

The most recent Census (from 2011) found that 770,000 people that live in England speak little or no English and the demand for English language classes remains high.

Since 2013 over 100,000 places have been made available to help isolated adults improve their English language proficiency and build their self-confidence through community-based programmes.

The new programme will deliver high-quality language teaching in familiar and accessible community locations including schools, registered childcare settings and places of worship.

It is also designed to improve people’s connection to their local area and encourage social relationships between different communities.

The fund provides an opportunity for local authorities to tell the department about their area and how they will deliver learning to residents with little or no English language, who may feel disconnected within their local communities.

Lack of English skills presents a clear barrier to social and economic mobility.

For some learners more formal approaches to learning English can be challenging.

The most common difficulties are travel costs, lack of childcare, illiteracy in their first language or a reluctance or lack of confidence to make the first steps towards learning English.

The new programme aims to remove those obstacles and continue to fund classes in familiar community locations.

More information on the application process and the ESOL for Integration Fund prospectus is available here