"The refugee council was established in 1990 and I have been working here for twenty years now. I started off as a support worker and changed different roles until I became the chief executive four years ago. We have a very good mixture of different ethnic backgrounds the average is 40 to 45 different nationalities. It’s a very rewarding job. As a refugee myself I am more related to their situation and I want to help people."
"We get people that are in different levels, some with high academic background, so we try to support them to work in universities or go after a degree. We have several volunteer teachers that are Mike's final year students. It helps to maintain the balance and it also raises awareness because some of the students never came along to any asylum seekers, when they come here people think they are aliens. Is increasing their experiences and knowledge about what is going around them."
"Mike is just teaching on Wednesday but we managed to get volunteers and the average intake has gone from five to about eighty to a hundred a week, so it is a very successful project."
"It started as a small partnership project a couple of years ago and I remember it started with about five refugees and asylum seekers once a week and I think with Mike's help and the spread of the word we are doing about four to five sessions a week."
Salah Mohamed, CEO at Welsh Refugee Council.
"My dream is to learn English and speak properly, I want my kids to learn English and to have a degree when they're older."
"I am really enjoying my classes because I am learning English. They do help me because I am already getting better. What I want to achieve is to have my family here and to be in work."
Rhian Webb, Senior Lecturer in TESOL/English.
"We run a minor in TESOL Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In the first year of undergraduate’s studies they learn about awareness of the English language, so they have one module in grammar to understand prescriptive grammar and the meta language of the rules of use, the rules of syntax."
"In the second year the undergraduates, do a course called peer teaching. They learn teaching methodologies and then they teach their peers. They design lesson plans and lessons and their own teaching materials, and they learn how to adapt books. In one of the modules they do a more in-depth analysis of the language."
"When we come to the third year we have a practicum, and this is where each undergraduate student has to do six hours of live teaching with real second language learners. We’ve been doing this for about six years, and it’s always quite difficult for second language learners to come to class and be taught by students."
"Syrian refugees were re housed in Rhondda Cynon Taf so all of a sudden we have refugees that live in Treforest in Pontypridd in the valleys. They are more local so all of a sudden we have two groups of refuges, some in Rhondda Cynon Taf and some in Cardiff . In the third year is the undergraduates students do their practice in Cardiff and some do it on campus with me and with the resettled Syrian refugees."
Josh - Trainee teacher.
"I remember when I was doing my practice and they were watching and smiling, whenever you ask them a question and they are engaged they answer back to you it's rewarding."
"I was talking to one of the boys today about football, we support the same team, so we have that connection, but even without that you have a connection because you are teaching them English and they are learning English so you have that connection."
Dan, Trainee teacher
"I still haven't had a lesson but I think from sitting with them and helping them with activities has been eye opening. It was nice to be able to sit down and go through the tasks that my peers worked hard to create for them to do. It was nice to participate, joke around and play around. It’s something I didn’t anticipate I would enjoy as much as I did."
"Hearing about having to do the teaching thing was terrifying. I was expecting to do it as some point I just didn’t expect it to be so soon, three years have gone really fast. I was more concerned having to be up there and teaching, that was my primary concern coming in at the start of this year. I wasn’t worried so much about the dissertation, or literature modules or whatever else, it was the standing up and teaching, that’s what always worried me. After taking part and watching these guys throughout their lessons, just engaging myself with the learners themselves, I am relieved. I thought it would be so much more intense but it’s casual and friendly, they make it really easy to teach."
Vera, Trainee teacher
"It’s bit of a challenge because everyone is a different level so some of them may not know how to read, some of them might not know how to pronounce the words correctly so you have to keep in the back of your mind when you prepare the lesson what to include and what not to include for the different levels that we have in the class room."
"I had a really nice moment when I was teaching last week, they really liked the listening activity. It was a Halloween themed lesson and when we finished the lesson they told me they really liked the activity because they learned new words and they were interested to hear the song again, they also did the exercise on their own."
Carlotta, Trainee teacher.
"First time I taught, after the class, some of them went to Rhian to let them know that they really like the class and that they are learning a lot and that was really special. I also gave them some worksheets to do at home and of the learners did it in class, they were so keen, it was really nice."
"I think they are very comfortable with us, always showing us pictures of their children and they are so open to us. At the beginning we were kind of scared because we didn’t know what to expect but they are so nice, so open, so relaxed."
Heather, Trainee teacher.
"They are lively and have really good characters. We have the Syrian refugees and we have a girl from Thailand and it’s great learning about their cultures as well.
"The fact that they immediately opened up and wanted to share means that there is no cultural barrier there, if anything it means that they are enriching everyone experiences."
Bet, Trainee teacher.
"It’s nice if they ask questions, million questions. If they ask something it means they interested. You are the best person. I’ve come here and observed for three times and we had some teaching practice with our peers, but it was nothing compering to this, this is much better. This is real. I am very grateful."
"Mike is so great, very practical and he makes people laugh that’s why I do my practice with him. I live in Treforest but I chose to do my practice here because think this is more real."
Roz, Trainee teacher.
"If we didn’t have this place WRC, or the classes that Rhian does on Thursday in Treforest, I am not sure what we would do as part of our degree, we might have been doing moc classes on each other and our colleagues and maybe the international student classes."
"Today we started by getting to know everyone first and everybody’s names, where they are from and sometimes how long they’ve been in the UK. It breaks a bit of ice to begin with and then we are doing the lesson on stuff that’s meaningful to them, like how to get a job writing a letter and stuff like that. Some of them today highlighted the fact that they don’t know how to register for an ESOL class in Cardiff and Vale college. So we took 5-10 mins of making sure that everyone knew how to do that. It’s stuff like that we need to make sure they know how to do, because English is the only way to get to where they want to be."
"This place has a high turn over rating. It could be different every week and you have to treat each lesson as if it is the first one. There is always so much to get out of a lesson and so much they wanted to know as well."
"The way Mike starts a lesson is by giving everyone a degree of power to bring up and ask about anything they want to know and that’s what we want really. Mike is really friendly and for him is so easy to break the ice and I want to learn how to do that."
To the honor and the loving memory of Bethan Roper, Volunteering and Partnership officer at the Welsh Refugee Council.
"I am responsible for recruiting and managing all the volunteers at the welsh refugee council and I’ve been at this role since august 2017 but I’ve worked with the welsh refugee council on and off since 2013. I’ve known Mike since he started working with us in 2014."
"I had quite a lot of meetings about how the project is going and I know Mike’s got lots of opinions about education, so I am always asking him for advice. I know the project is really valuable because it’s a very popular class. and also for the trainee teachers that he brings in with him to teach. He shared some of the feedback with me in the past about how it’s opened their eyes to what’s really going on and meeting people they never would have an opportunity to meet usually."
"A couple of the teachers who were here to teach with Mike then went on to became volunteers to teach separately from Mike so I got to speak to them myself and they found it incredibly valuable and all said, Mike and the other volunteers, that this group of students it’s brilliant compared to other group of students that you’re trying to teach English to, because they really want to learn, they are eager and so keen."