by Dasha White
Whether you feel that immigration creates a diverse society and contributes to economic prosperity or you are concerned about issues such as public spending and integration, it nevertheless remains a significant factor in our region.
Current data from Office of National Statistics shows that outside of London, the West Midlands is the second highest English region for proportion of population born abroad (11.6%) and the Oxford University’s Migration Observatory team estimate that in 2014 EU born residents in the West Midlands had increased by 24% in three years, and non-EU born by 3%. The Labour Force Survey estimates that foreign born nationals accounted for nearly half of growth in employment in 2015, with 2 million EU nationals and 1.2 million non EU nationals employed in the last quarter of 2015. This inevitably shapes our local communities and economy, and a key priority locally should therefore be to ensure maximum economic growth from immigration as well as facilitating integration to reap the benefits of diversity without creating division. Tackling English language proficiency and communication skills should be placed at the heart of this.
The British Council has said that “Support for migrants to learn the host language should be central to any policy that aims to … help them contribute to society and to the economy” (Language Issues in migration and integration, 2015). While the millions of migrants currently in employment in the UK have the language skills needed to in order to gain employment, this is often limited to work vocabulary rather than conversational and social English. Consequently, while migrants have the skills and motivation to work hard, support their families and contribute to our local economies, they can find it difficult to put down roots in their new country. While their English skills are “good enough” to do the job, lack of general fluency limits their confidence and ability to fully integrate and participate in other activities. If migrants were better supported with broad English language training, they would feel more fulfilled, be better able to help their families to settle down and contribute more to the local community.
Yet, accessing English language training to enhance English skills can be hard for new migrants. While English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses are offered by organisations such as local colleges, adult educational centres and other in-class training providers, these are not widely available across the region and many migrants face access difficulties in terms of travel, flexibility, childcare and in some cases, high costs.
It is hard for UK employers and other organisations to cost effectively implement tailored English language courses with the flexibility to suit the different circumstances of learners. This is where online learning offers significant advantages, and the Online English Language School “The White Apple” is campaigning for a more joined-up approach to delivering and promoting English language teaching for migrants in the region.
The White Apple specialises in live online English language tuition with CELTA qualified native British teachers. The School is an official Cambridge English Exam Preparation Centre, and the only e-learning provider in the UK with live online English courses accredited by the CPD Continuing Professional Development Standards office. Their one-to-one online English classes have always been popular but a year ago the School also launched online English tuition for groups, making English language training available to a much wider audience. This is a highly cost effective way to deliver English tuition without compromising on the quality. It enables learners to access a live online class from their own computer, as part of a privately organised group of four or more. This distance learning method offers greater flexibility for learners, enabling them to fit learning into their lives, thus increasing motivation, commitment and successful outcomes.
The White Apple offers language training to suit every learning style and level. As well as courses aimed at supporting integration such as ‘British Lifestyle and Traditions’, specialised options have been developed for key work sectors such as English for Hospitality and Tourism, English for Restaurant Staff, English for Carers, Medical English, English for Banking and Finance, Construction, IT and Telecom, Health and Safety, Marketing, Sales, HR, Job Interview Preparation and many more.
The founder of the Company, Dasha White argues that this breadth of courses (currently over 60), the flexibility, as well as more than eight years’ experience of providing a teaching service, can offer a unique opportunity for a partnership-based, flexible and cost effective solution to supporting migrants’ English language conversational skills. She is in a singular position of being able to understand the specific needs and challenges learners often face. Brought up and educated in Belarus, the daughter of a Siberian father and Belarussian mother, Dasha had always had a passion for learning English. Her personal understanding of the joy and challenges of learning a second language led Dasha to establish The White Apple Company and she continues to be determined to deliver more flexible and tailored language training as well as making it widely accessible.
The White Apple is currently investing in making the company’s embedded Virtual English Classroom platform suitable for larger groups, in order to make high quality language tuition even more affordable for participating learners. The School welcomes new opportunities and would love to work with businesses and employers, migrant and refugee support services, as well as local authorities and charities. Some businesses may be in a position to contribute funds towards English language training for their migrant workers, or to bring together groups of learners; others may be able to help raise awareness of the options available for improving English language skills and their affordability. Whether through funding, advice or signposting of options, the proactive support for delivering and promoting English language training to employees and individual migrants would bring positive social and economic benefits for the local economy and our communities.
Anyone wanting to discuss opportunities of working together can contact Dasha on 03330 124 185 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More information and downloadable materials are available on company’s website www.thewhiteapple.com