Muslim mums out to prove that language is no barrier
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.
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"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."