Antioch church in Colwyn Bay is part of a Christian TEFL pilot project, in conjunction with Westhill Endowment Trust, to train and support Christian volunteers from 3 different church communities to teach English, then commence their own local English outreach programmes.
Here, Suzanne Coleman, who heads up the team of 5 volunteers at Antioch, speaks about their progress on the course so far and their plans for the future. She says:
Our church mission statement is:
Sharing the transforming love of Jesus with the community, Wales and the world.
Helping people to learn English who come into our community from other parts of the world is one of the ways we can help all internationals feel welcomed and become more a part of the community.
We are already hosting a Red Cross support group for some Syrian refugee families.
Because this group is under the Red Cross we are restricted as to what we can do with them. While they all attend a local college for ESOL lessons, all of them want more opportunities to practice English outside of the college so they have asked me if I can go along every week to help them with their English. So, myself and some of the other TESOL trainees go along to help from time to time.
I have found the ESOL course helpful in giving me a framework and the resources to help when teaching English. I have also put some of the things into practice when I prepare lessons for a group of international volunteers that I teach at a local Christian Endeavor Holiday Centre. I haven’t used the course with the Syrian refugees yet as they are already getting formal lessons at the college and at this stage they just want opportunities to practice what they have been learning at college.
We are already looking ahead. Our church has bought a property in the centre of Colwyn Bay in order to serve the community. The TEFL partnership, made possible by the grant (which we have received) will enable us to have a team of people who can offer to provide lessons for people in the community who want help to learn or improve their English.
Once the property which the church has bought has been renovated, the longer term plan is to offer free English lessons there to the Syrian refugees and anyone in the community for whom English is not their first language.
If anyone is interested in offering something similar, I’d give the following advice:
Look for the people of other ethnic origins in your community and find out what their needs are. Then see in what ways you can help to meet these needs.
Thank you, Suzanne. We wish you and your team well as you show the love of Jesus to those around you.