Bayswater College Liverpool has launched a new English language and culture programme.
Walk and Talk is a series of monthly events which brings together students from the college and refugees and asylum seekers living in Liverpool. The project aims for everyone to develop their English as they get to know Liverpool’s best cultural attractions and each other.
The idea was initially developed for logistical reasons. Local charities providing English classes to refugees and asylum seekers are often unable to meet demand due to a lack of classroom space. As a result, they can have waiting lists of up to 200 people who want to improve their English but have no access to classes. To provide more classes they needed to take teaching outside of the classroom.
For Sarah Byrne, Principal at Bayswater College Liverpool, this was an opportunity to offer active, experiential learning to refugees and asylum seekers who don’t often know about the cultural spaces available to them. She explains, 'Liverpool is an exceptionally good location for learning English outside of the classroom. There are more museums and galleries here than in any other UK city apart from London. Most are free and we have tons of experience in designing lessons and activities based on their exhibits. Each floor of every museum and gallery is an incredibly rich learning resource. We had a fantastic time reading, matching and writing descriptions of paintings at The Walker Art Gallery for our first Walk and Talk event.’
Attendance at the first event exceeded expectations. The group were 30 people in total. Director of Bayswater College, James Herbertson, said this was thanks to a good tip from local charities. ‘We were told that the success of any such initiative often depends on travel expenses being provided. People who are refugees or asylum seekers rarely live in the city centre or have spare cash for travelling. A daily ticket costs £4.40 and asylum seekers generally have £5 per day to live on.’ Bayswater Foundation provide refreshments on arrival at the college as well as the classroom space and materials for the pre-visit lesson. They also cover the cost of travel expenses and will be fundraising when the programme restarts after lockdown so that even more people can join.