EAEA News 2008-01-08
Old meets new in Ireland
Never too old to teach. Older people use their skills and talents to help new migrants in Ireland to improve their English Language skills.
The adult Learners´ Festival hosted by AONTAS the Irish national Adult Learning Organization will open on February 4th 2008 with the celebration of the prestigious STAR Awards ceremony.
STARS (Showcasing Teamwork, Awarding Recognition) will be awarded to projects which demonstrate a high level of learner -centred approaches, innovative use of adult education methodologies and a team approach to adult learning. This year nominations for the awards have been coming in thick and fast as the popularity and profile of the Festival continues to grow. A project which has generated a great deal of interest this year is one which involves older people helping new migrants with their English.
Named Failte Isteach which are the Irish words for Welcome In, the project began in October 2005 and was the direct result of an observed local need among the increasing population of new migrants in a local community in a large County adjacent to Dublin. Currently ten per cent of Ireland´s population are people who were not born in Ireland. Many members of the new migrant communities were experiencing difficulty in their social and working lives as a result of their lack of English language skills and since Ireland has no particular system in place to cater for the English Language needs of speakers of other languages, this community decided to help themselves.
Members of the Third Age Foundation, an older people´s organization in the area came up with the idea of using their skills and talents to teach conversational English to newcomers from a wide variety of countries , including Argentina, China, France, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine and Sweden. The project focuses on conversational English, basing lesson plans on daily scenarios such as ‘visiting the doctor´, ‘my work´, ‘shopping´, ‘making a telephone call etc. Every Tuesday up to forty adult learners assisted by older volunteers work together on these topics. The children of the learners are also encouraged to come along to the classes with their parents and volunteers assist parents to help their children with homework making this a truly intergenerational process. Children often learn English faster than their parents and because of this they may have to take on adult responsibilities such as shopping, paying bills, writing letters or answering the telephone ,so learning together is a key focus of this project.
Volunteers generally work with two to three learners and encourage social interaction by introducing individuals from different countries to one another. Together the volunteers and learners identify their particular needs which vary from communicating in the workplace or socially to understanding rights and entitlements or accessing services such as health and education. Lesson plans are then designed to suit the needs of the learner taking into account their proficiency in English. Plans can be adapted for all levels from basic through intermediate to advanced. There is a high level of collaboration between the project and the local schools with teachers identifying needs and using their expertise to support volunteers to develop lesson plans. The volunteers use a variety of teaching and learning methods including small discussion groups, visual aids, practical demonstrations and role play focusing on everyday activities.
Classes are delivered at times that are suitable for learners taking into account their home and work commitments. Volunteers also act as advocates providing assistance where necessary, particularly in relation to rights and services.
The beauty of this project is that it is totally learner-centred and careful consideration is given to ensure that the needs of learners are met in such a way as to encourage maximum participation.
The project is not just about transfer of skills and knowledge. It is achieving much more than that. It is building a new sense of community spirit, creating new friendships, facilitating learning and encouraging people to become interested in each others culture. It promotes the value and contribution that older people can and do make to society, generating trust and respect and alleviating isolation through the extension of the hand of friendship and goodwill. The project is making a tremendous difference to the lives of all those involved. It has increased the confidence and self esteem of both volunteers and learners and has improved the working and social lives of newcomers.
Working the project has been a challenge but one which has been well worthwhile according to both volunteers and learners. This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved if the collective resources of older people are pooled and used for the benefit of the community. As a result of their work there is a greatly enhanced social interaction between new and indigenous communities, thus reducing fear and suspicion by building trust and embracing diversity.
The Failte Isteach Project is one of one hundred and thirty one exciting projects competing for an AONTAS STAR. The biggest problem for the AONTAS judges will be deciding who deserves it most.
(INFOnet - Berni Brady, Director, AONTAS)
New multimedia section at the EAEA web site
A tribute to Freire
Lifelong Learning Programme: Call for proposals 2008
Equal opportunities resources
LifeLong learning in Italy
Better jobs for women still scarce
Launch event - European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
UNESCO Prize for Peace Education 2008
Bassarabian Love charms
Best Practice of Adult Education in Malta
Arts festivals supports Year of Intercultural Dialogue
Communication on Financial Education
Survey of financial literacy schemes
World Social Forum Global Day of Action: January 26, 2008
Turkish AE focus on basic skills
Paulo Coelho to participate at the First Alliance of Civilizations Annual Forum
Old meets new in Ireland
Functional basic education of adult Roma
CFP: Projects on citizenship
Europe for Citizens-programme 2007-2013
UK: Increasingly desperate times as 700,000 adults are lost to learning
Focus on intercultural dialogue