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ESOL Pathfinder. Research Topic To investigate whether Language / Cultural Awareness training will enable frontline staff to deal more appropriately with a wide range of ESOL learners. Working with JobCentre Plus. Initial Objectives

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ESOL Pathfinder

Research Topic

To investigate whether Language / Cultural Awareness training will enable frontline staff to deal more appropriately with a wide range of ESOL learners.

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Working with JobCentre Plus

Initial Objectives

  • To identify issues and barriers faced by JCP staff when dealing with speakers of other languages

  • To offer focused language and cultural awareness training to frontline staff

  • To establish channels of communication between ESOL and JCP staff

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Aims of the Training

Cultural Awareness

  • To raise awareness of the issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

  • To dispel some of the myths relating to refugees and asylum seekers

  • To raise awareness of the needs of speakers of other languages

  • To consider cultural variables e.g. personal space, body language, behavioural ‘norms’

  • To provide useful factual information regarding support organisations

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Aims of the Training

Language Awareness

  • To raise awareness of issues involved in communicating with people whose first language is not English

  • To introduce some techniques for checking understanding

  • To reflect on cross-linguistic / cross-cultural communication

  • To consider the impact of ineffective communication on the customer and advisor

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Advisors identified the following benefits:

  • Better understanding of the asylum process

  • Greater awareness of language and cultural issues

  • Realisation of barriers faced by second language speakers

  • Strategies for support in initial interviews

  • Knowledge of organisations offering support

  • ‘a great deal of information needed to carry out my job effectively’

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Requests were made for:

  • Further sessions to include input from speakers of other languages

  • More information on cross-cultural issues

  • Establishment of mentoring programmes

  • Training for mentors

  • System to facilitate ongoing liaison between ESOL Tutors and JCP Advisors

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Immediate Outcomes

  • JCP advisors organised information sessions for ESOL students interested in forthcoming JCP posts

  • Customers needing short intensive English for Work courses identified by JCP

  • Focus group with customers to identify specific language needs

  • Course designed by ESOL Tutors and JCP staff

  • JCP advisors involved in ESOL residential course Preparation for Work

  • Action Plan drawn up for future collaborative work

  • Links with Ethnic Outreach workers established

  • JCP Basic Skills Managers attended ESOL providers meeting to clarify procedures

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Further Outcomes

  • 75% of JCP Advisors returning evaluation 6 months on identified longer term positive impact on their work

  • Triangular relationships established for Customer Support

  • Language and Cultural Awareness Training pack disseminated via national Pathfinders forum

  • Training was adapted and delivered to other college staff (DISC, library, Student Services, Customer Support, key teaching staff across the college and Business Training Staff)