Last week, over 60 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners and their families attended a celebration of their achievements at the Maybury Centre in Woking.
The learners, originating from over 30 different countries, were delighted to be awarded their examination certificates by the Mayor of Woking (Councillor Beryl Hunwicks). Cllr Hunwicks had previously worked as an ESOL teacher with Woking College. She praised the teachers for their hard work and spoke of her admiration for the learners, whom she called “heroes.”
The ESOL Skills for Life Courses are for adult learners whose first language is not English. Many of the learners celebrating at the event arrived in the UK with minimal English language skills and are now able to work and study here.
A special award, “ESOL Learners of the Year,” was presented to Aasiya Hasnain (Pakistan), Sharon Ramirez Santamaria (Columbia), Rangen Hassana and Said Darkachili (Syria) and Delia Rubino (Italy) for their commitment to learning.
“Learning English has changed my life. In my country (Syria), as a diabetic man aged 63, I would be considered at the end of my life. However, when I arrived in England I forgot my age and started to learn English. Now I don’t need to keep the letters I receive until an interpreter is able to help me. I can read them for myself and I can order my own medicine.”
Sharon, who has now completed her Level 2 qualification, said,
“I have faced overwhelming challenges such as finding a job in my field and getting used to a new way of life. However, English is not an obstacle for me now, it is an opportunity to continue growing personally and professionally.”
Woking College Principal, Brett Freeman, and Head of Essential Skills, Rachel Simpson, congratulated all the learners and spoke of their contribution to the local community. As Mr Freeman, teacher of Government and Politics, said,
“Democracy only works if people have a voice. You now have a voice.”
The ceremony was followed by a party at which refreshments from the learners’ diverse backgrounds were shared.
Some learners spoke of how learning English has helped them: “I can talk about my feelings more confidently;” “I can go shopping alone;” “I can describe my problems to a doctor,” “I have got a job which I love.”
For adults wishing to enrol on new ESOL courses, details are on the website at www.woking.ac.uk