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Half of all ESOL students may find themselves out of basic English teaching classes

Teachers say new rules imply far less immigrants can afford to learn basic English

15th April 2011: Approximately half of all ESOL students in some cities may find themselves out of basic English teaching classes with the cutting of funds.

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The assertion came as teachers reacted with anger to prime minister’s call for immigrants to take English lessons. The teachers argue the appeal comes at a time when the coalition has cut funds for these classes.

New arrivals lacking basic English skills will soon find themselves paying half the cost of their lessons. Employers will be required have to pay the bill for English lessons taking place in the workplace.

For the government has made it clear from autumn it will only fund classes in basic English to immigrants on jobseeker’s allowance and employability skills allowance.

As such, immigrants claiming income support and other benefits will find themselves unable to attend classes without paying for these.

Approximately 180,000 students take ESOL classes in England. The lessons are considered the first step to learning English for most immigrants.

Teachers of basic English classes assert the new rules would imply far less immigrants could afford to learn even basic English.

The assertion came just as the prime minister David Cameron in his speech on immigration in Hampshire is claiming non-English speaking immigrants or the ones unwilling to integrate have created a "kind of discomfort and disjointedness" disrupting communities across Britain.

The teachers claimed a substantial number of their students were housewives. Their husbands were unable to pay for them to study part-time at £400 or £500 a year.

Judith Kirsh from the National Association for Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults — the professional association for ESOL teachers — said they thought this change could mean about half of all ESOL students in some cities could be shut out from attending lessons
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Kirsh believes the changes could also see hundreds of ESOL teachers facing redundancy.

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education said changes taking place over the past four years have seen the number of ESOL students drop from 219,000 to 183,000.

The institute’s programme manager for ESOL, Chris Taylor, says the reduction in ESOL places means fewer chances for a reviving British economy to make use of the skills of migrants.

It meant  the children of families with poor English have an extra hurdle to overcome in doing well at school and it means that it will take longer for people to share their experiences with others in the ways the prime minister describes.

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