April 13, 2021

ESOL Plus Arts

COMPASS was an ESOL plus arts project designed and delivered in partnership by Groundwork London and Counterpoints Arts. The project aimed to interweave language learning with arts-based activities and ran between April 2020 and March 2021.

COMPASS engaged with 70 English learners and 12 volunteers. Participants joined remotely from across London. Throughout the project art was embedded into the English classes and provided participants with the opportunity and time to express themselves differently.

A set of ESOL plus arts sessions were designed by Dima Karout a visual artist and educator with international experience. Dima delivered these sessions in partnership with Groundwork London’s English Tutors, Caroline Chapman and Tracy Faron who also delivered a series of related ESOL classes drawing out themes from the arts sessions.

Dima Karout said: “Working closely with Groundwork team and meeting all these wonderful participants was a great opportunity that allowed us to exchange ideas, get insights into different cultures, views and values and to hear unique experiences from everyone attending. I felt very privileged to be able to share my knowledge and love for art with everyone, and to witness their talents, positivity, love for learning and the progress they’ve achieved in a short time. These sessions offered an inclusive space that expanded our knowledge and widened our understanding of diversity and the world around us.”

Tracy Farron, ESOL tutor, said: “The themes and visuals engaged participants and tutors alike. All shared ideas, experiences and creativity in an environment that promoted inclusion and equality. The welcoming atmosphere encouraged those with early skills to make their first steps towards being understood, and those with a high level to expand their vocabulary and polish their pronunciation. As a tutor, I now use the skills and techniques I learned from Dima. I have wonderful memories of the time; it was a very positive experience for us all.”

Nadia, a participant, said: “Before I was scared and didn’t have confidence as it was all new to me, I didn’t speak English and couldn’t speak to other people face to face. Before I was shaking when I had to speak to people, but because of your help, it’s excellent. You help to make people more confident, now I speak with the doctor, now I can speak for 10 minutes on the phone. You help people.”

Image (top): a collection of art pieces created by the participants during the ESOL plus ARTS sessions.

You can download a toolkit (pdf) assembling the learning from the programme.

This video is created by Groundwork London, educators and participants to give insights into the new ESOL Plus ARTS programme.