Every Wednesday morning, The Old Vic at St Mary’s is a hive of activity as 30 – 40 adults, for whom English isn’t their first language, attend English lessons.

Laura, Fran and Kathy, all qualified teachers of English as a Second Language, run three classes for different ability levels, teaching people from all over the world.  We have students from Iran, China, Hong Kong, Colombia, Spain, Ukraine, and Pakistan, among others. Some of our students are refugees, some have moved to the UK for family reasons, some have come from Hong Kong wanting to stay under British rather than Chinese control. Some have come to the UK with next to nothing, others are relatively well off. Some are Christian, some are seeking, some are Muslim, others agnostic. Ages range from early 20s to late 70s.

The lessons are designed to be fun, accessible, and geared towards practical usage. Most of the students are very keen to learn – one class has requested homework and spelling tests every week!

Our aim is to provide high quality English lessons. But equally importantly, our aim is to introduce Jesus, mainly by seeking to model Christ and openly be his followers.  We love our students and seek to help them beyond the classroom.  For some this is helping them with CVs or doctor/school letters, for others it is providing clothes or practical support.  For all, we are a listening ear and a safe space. And we pray for our students.

Our end-of-term Christmas Party was well attended. There were traditional English Christmas snacks, quizzes, and charades. Laura told a story of a boy who wanted to help ants who were in real danger, but the only way he could communicate with them was by becoming an ant, entering their world……sound familiar?

We ended with language groups of students wrapping up a fellow student; lots of Sellotape, wrapping paper, and decorations were applied with much laughter.

If you would like to get involved, please talk to one of us.  Helpers are hugely appreciated.  You can help with the learning, playing with the children, making coffee, being another friendly face who the students can practise their English with.  We would love to have you.

Please contact Laura Swain on laura.swain@stmarysmaidenhead.org