EastEnders for ESOL

Today the BBC ran an article about how learners of ESOL are using its popular soap shoutfest EastEnders as a tool for learning English. Through watching the soap on a nightly basis, Farid Saleh learnt English while he was on a waiting list for a heavily subscribed ESOL course.

While the story in isolation is positive, many years ago, I warned a learner away from using exactly this strategy because I felt that to improve her prospects for employability, she would need a more formal style of English. However, with ESOL waiting lists stretching on for months and dwindling funding for classes, learners are sensible to seek exposure to the language by any means necessary.

Historically, some local ESOL providers have been prone to competing for registered learners and ultimately funding, actively undermining new providers of ESOL classes in order to maintain their dominance over the field in their region. However, the work of NATECLA proposes to change this by connecting ESOL providers via local Hubs.

It is good news for everyone involved in ESOL and finally the hegimonious providers will be able to see learners as communities, not commodities.