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Muslim mums out to prove that language is no barrier

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: February 13, 2012

  • BACK TO SCHOOL: From left, Jaspal Sond, Charan Singh, Susan Bacon, Sally Li and Angela Steven CMAC20120201A-211_C

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MUSLIM mums are going back to school to learn English in a bid to catch up with their children and integrate with the community.

Every Wednesday a group of about 20 mothers practise their speaking, listening and writing skills, coached by professional tutors and volunteers at Moulsham high school.

Jasmin Begum, 34, who moved to England from Bangladesh in 1998, said she joined the group so she could understand her three children when they talked in English to each other.

She is so keen to improve her skills she takes written work home and hopes to sit English as a second language exam in May.

"I enjoy coming here and talking to others and learning something new," she told the Chronicle.

"I am more confident going to the doctors and hospital now, and it has also helped me with parents' evenings.

"I enjoy the homework and if I get stuck my children help me."

The club was set up for mothers of children at Moulsham High, Moulsham Infant and Junior schools and Oaklands Infants school.

Susan Bacon, higher level teaching assistant at the secondary school, said: "We originally called the group Muslim Mums as the schools realised there was a significant number of parents of this religion who wanted help with their English language skills.

"This has widened to include women of other ethnic origins such as Bengali, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian and Iranian.

"We are constantly getting new requests for places, and the mums all seem to enjoy it as it gives them an opportunity to socialise as well as improve their English."

Sally Li is at the early stages of learning English, and tutors are focussing on extending her vocabulary associated with health and daily life.

She said: "I really enjoy coming here. The teachers are very good."

Mother of three Jaspal Sond has been attending the classes for a year, and with one exam under her belt is revising for the next level to be taken this spring.

She fits the class around her hours as a teaching assistant and dinner lady at Moulsham Infant School. She said: "I had no problem with speaking and understanding spoken English but I really needed to improve my writing skills.

"Coming here has been a great help. Now as well as the ESOL exam I am taking an NVQ, which I couldn't have done before."

One of the volunteers is Iranian Mina Mirzaaghazadeh, 32, who first came to the group as a student and went on to take three exams, enough to win her a place to study for a masters degree at Reading University.

She said: "I can now help the beginners until I find a full-time job in the food industry."

Charan Singh, ESOL Tutor from the Adult Community Learning College, leads the classes. She said: "The aim is to give these women better English skills so they are able to go shopping, attend doctors' appointments, and parents evenings with more confidence and independence."

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  • iftikhara  |  February 17 2012, 10:12PM

    Fabio Capello, England Italian manager, needs only 100 English wordsto manage the English team effectively and could even earn more than £4 nillion for his work. Similary, an immigrant with few English words could find a job in British economy and contribute for the betterment for the British society by paying all sorts of taxes. There is no need to be well versed in English. Without migrantion, British society and economy would have bled to death. Immigrants improved the inner cities of Britain. According to DC, mass immigration has led to "discomfort and disjointedness" in neighbourhoods because some immigrants have been unwilling to integrate or learn English. Migrants have created wealth and jobs because Brits rely on welfare system. This means that there will be no end to immigration in the near future, because of the ageing population and low birth rates. Britain had " benefited immeasurably" from immigration. We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge's schools have reached their highest levels since record begin. Your car is German. Your vodka is Russian. Your pizza is Italian. Your kebab is Turkish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your movies are American. Your tea is Tamil. Your shirt is Indian. Your oil is Saudi Arabian. Your electronics are Chinese. Your numbers are Arabic, your letters Latin. And you complain that your neighbor is an immigrant? Pull yourself together! IA .

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  • BKaleda  |  February 12 2012, 3:00PM

    If an immigrant can't speak fluent English, then they shouldn't be here. Only the British would be stupid enough to allow foreigners in who can't speak our language.

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  • iftikhara  |  February 10 2012, 10:26PM

    Is there a real problem with the children of migrants NOT learning English? Or is this something from the Conservative Central Command Random Policy Generator Highly skilled migrants from outside the EU are essential to British economy. I would have thought that 'highly skilled' meant they would have a reasonable command of the English language as do most EU workers. they have not come here to change their way of life they are here because their skills are badly needed for the economic prosperity of the British society. And the British who go to work in say Germany or other EU countries. How many have a good command of the language when they arrive. A few maybe but most will learn very little or none at all. It is difficult to criticise others when we are no better. They send their children to English medium schools instead of local schools. Thee is a difference between speaking/knowing English and English being the first language. So a Fenchman or an Italian will know English but may be speaking their language (mother tongue) at home. Their kids are unlikely to know English until they start going to school. Are these parents expected to teach their children 2 or more languages? I know the trouble getting them to speak and make logical sentences, let alone different languages. I wish people thought intelligently before they went about migrant bashing. Perhaps English people could learn to read and write their own language as well please Dave. How about teaching the British how to speak it first can't understand half the northerners, Scottish and welsh. Native parents teach their children English. Funnily enough, every immigrant I know can speak at least some English as well as one or more other languages, whereas young English kids, who've been raised on television and hardly know how to have a conversation, can hardly master their own language, let alone anyone else's. You people love to blame everyone else, but the rot set in right here at home: it's not government's fault, it's not immigrants' fault, it's yours, for your laziness, your smugness, and your arrogance. Migrants learn the language properly, and ultimately, can read and write it better than the English children. I would wager that many English people would fail a language test as well. As for you can only live here if you speak the language, may I ask how many of Brits living in Spain have taken the trouble to learn the language of the country they live in? The Brits in British-themed resorts in Spain get angry when the waiters don't speak fluent English and there's no fish and chips on the menu. Aren't the British supposed to have an innate sense of irony? How many English nationals living in SPAIN can actually speak a word of Spanish?? ....You guessed right. Not many. So what is the Prime Minister talking about?? How about a rule that British people must teach their children (correct) English? Most of the immigrants have better grammar and spelling than some of the native-born parents round here. I am wondering if David Cameron knows anything about language learning; it appears not. Children under the age of about 10 can very easily learn a new language quickly if immersed in it (as they would be by going to school). Many migrant children born in the UK didn't speak English until they went to school. It didn't affect their education/life chances; they all went to University and now have good jobs (oh and they're bilingual). In addition, a friend who has taught in East London schools told me that if parents don't speak English perfectly they should NOT speak English to their children as then the kids start school with bad English, which has to be unlearned. If a child can speak one language (whatever it is) correctly, then they can learn a second without a problem. It is beneficial if children learned their 'mother tongue' first before English. Who cares if English isn't a first language as long as it is spoken competently? Some migrants w

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