ESOL Teaching Offers a Much Needed Welcome

By Sue Withers, ESOL Teacher

ESOL Teacher writing on whiteboard

Can you imagine yourself arriving, sometimes through difficulty, in a bewildering foreign environment where you can’t speak the language  Can you imagine yourself grappling with incomprehensible forms, unable to understand the signs in a supermarket, baffled by the GP receptionist or dumb in the face of hostility?  In my career as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)  teacher, my students have told me stories like these.

In the Jesus Centre our aim is to teach immediate survival English to those at the lowest level of speaking and listening, but also improve the literacy, pronunciation and grammar of more advanced students.

Classes can be a shock to those who expect to come and quietly listen. The aim is to have 30% teacher talk and 70% student participation. There is group work, role play, hands-on activities and communication games. It’s an opportunity to hear about different cultures, to allow people to open up about things they need to express and to discuss our values.

I believe that God loves justice and cares for the foreigner. For me, the ESOL class is more than teaching English or even imparting an understanding of English culture. It is an opportunity to give a much-needed welcome, offer a sense of family and share a taste of the Kingdom of God.



If you are interested in volunteering in a ESOL class please fill in a Volunteer Application Form.


ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Student Stories 


Jana came to England from the Czech Republic because of her husband’s job. She began attending a ESOL class immediately.

She has appreciated the opportunity to speak English: “You can learn something from a text book, but when you don’t speak you don’t learn.”

She has also enjoyed the ‘friendly and helpful’ atmosphere of the Jesus Centre in Northampton, and meeting people from all over the world. She comments: “It’s nice to walk through Northampton and meet people you know.”

Jana has also been to a college, but prefers a more informal atmosphere: “Here I can find a more personal approach. At college I asked for more preparation for the exam and they asked me what I wanted to know. Here the teacher is always prepared.”

Wei Loon

Wei Loon was 16 when he came to England with his father from Malaysia. He couldn’t speak a word of English, and had a problem fitting in to the school system as he didn’t have sufficient qualifications for sixth-form college. A friend arranged for him to go to ESOL classes at the Northampton Jesus Centre, and he went for a year and a half, also learning IT.

Now he is working in a building firm and speaks fluent English.


Join an ESOL Class today

We offer ESOL courses for anyone who’s first language is not English and who is a resident or permanently settled in the UK.  Find out more about courses and classes that we offer here.


  1. Agata Zaloga says:

    Would you guys do B1 exam or classes Esol entry level 3 in English for british naturalisation?
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi Agata,

      Thanks for your message. Sadly at present we do not do a B1 exam. We do though have Esol entry level 3 classes (2hrs/week on Tuesday mornings) but not towards a Naturalisation qualification. I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

  2. Abhishek Srivastava says:

    Looking out B1 English Exam preparation training.

    1. Hi, At present we don not offer the B1 exam.

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