Thiruchelvi Politanina, a 42-year-old mother of four, moved to Luton in 2016. Originally from Sri Lanka, she lived in the Netherlands for 24 years. When she first came to the UK, she spoke almost no English.
Thiruchelvi was struggling to speak with the teachers at her daughter’s school, so they recommended she pop along to the English My Way classes at local Online Centre, Empowering Education.
“The school for my daughter, they gave me information about the course,” explains Thiruchelvi. “Honestly, in beginning, I was nervous to go, because I speak only Dutch.”
The more she attended the English My Way class, the more comfortable Thiruchelvi became in the learning environment and with using her new language skills.
She says: “What I like most about the classes is that you work together in a group and teacher help us very well. We learn words that we need for living here and every day we’re learning something new. Since attending the class I feel confident to speak English.”
Learning with each other has become a really big part of the journey for the group at Empowering Education. The project support manager, Lobia Begum says: “What we tend to do is have coffee mornings for the community and everybody brings something to eat and they share recipes.”
Thiruchelvi says: “I have made lots of friends! They live near my house and we drink coffee sometimes and celebrate things. They make things to eat from their country then we’re eating together and it’s very nice. I am very happy.
“We speak together and it’s better for communicating. We help each other.”
Thiruchelvi has made great progress in her learning journey and she’s been using her new skills to help her navigate life in Britain.
Lobia says: “Thiruchelvi has been with us for quite some time now and it’s amazing - she’s been able to learn long words, her confidence has grown, her communication and her whole vocabulary has improved! She’s practising and overcoming all the barriers.”
Thiruchelvi says: “I can go to shops, travel on buses and they can understand me better now! I can send an email to the school about my daughter and when I speak on telephone, I can understand. Some English people have accent and if I can’t understand, I ask them to speak slowly and I can. It makes me confident.
“I am very happy and my family are happy too. Very important thing is you can help the children with homework and you can read a letter and you know what happened at school. I think learning English is very important for my life.”