TALK ENGLISH (TE) began in August 2005 with two recently trained CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers offering extra lessons to their adult teaching practice students who were French-speaking refugees from DRC. Need was great and the project grew in response. Currently about 80 students are taught by more than 15 volunteer teachers - still many refugees, but also immigrants from various other countries, joined by a growing number of South Africans.
TE teachers became known for their patience and resourceful approach to challenging groups such as refugees and were asked to assist other organisations e.g. SANZAF (South African National Zakah Fund), RSS (Refugee Social Services), Toyota South Africa and the University of KwaZuluNatal. RSS asked TE teachers to not only assist adults in learning survival English but to also prepare French-speaking refugee children for South African schools. In addition TE ran a Medical English course as many refugee students were medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and paramedics. We designed and ran a course for them with the help of a young American doctor studying in South Africa.
Courses are now being run for children at Addington Primary school who need better English to cope educationally and socially. The group is a mixture of South African isiZulu and refugee French speakers.
In 2013 and 2014 TE teachers worked at Zwelibanzi High School in Umlazi (a township High School) on a US Embassy Access Programme for English language enhancement.
TALK ENGLISH has resolved many practical problems since 2005, such as the wide range of ages and literacy levels in each class, large student numbers, ongoing new enrolments and attrition. We don't turn anyone away, which means curriculum continuity must be balanced with the need for drop-in, stand-alone lessons. Our dream is to increasingly use our learning, skills and expertise to help the many South African and foreign children and adults who need to speak better English for their studies and work.
From a small volunteer group TE is gently evolving into a serious non-profit organisation (NPO), with a widely recognised body of experience and expertise.