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UCL language, Inequality and Politics Society (LIPS) & Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB)

Teaching English to migrant workers: Exploring challenges and opportunities

The UCL Language, Inequality and Politics Society (LIPS) and the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) – Universities of London branch invite you to a conversation about the challenges and opportunities encountered by a group of volunteers (MA, PhD students and early career researchers) who participated as teachers of English for Latin-American migrants who work as cleaners at top universities in London and who are members of the IWGB. These challenges range from lack of appropriate teaching material to students’ self-deprecation, and the consequences of framing classes as “voluntary work” for both volunteers and students. What is more, volunteers bring their own ideas of what “English ” means and how to teach it and, in many cases, these ideas clash with the workers’ expectations of what they are supposed to learn. For this group of workers, English is, fundamentally, built upon specific ideas about language such as standard English, nativespeakerism, among others, and they heavily invest in the concept of the promise of normative standard form of English as a key tool for upward social mobility and social inclusion while for the volunteers, this teaching experience represent, in many cases, a chance to develop their personal and professional skills.

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