Spotlight: English classes over WhatsApp!

Welcome to the first of our website spotlights where we will be showcasing the work of one of our four programmes to give an insight into how they work. Today we’re spending time in Catherine’s Pre-entry ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) class, delivered over WhatsApp!

Our Adult Learning programme provides education for adults in the local area in maths, English and ICT, giving our learners the skills and qualifications they need to increase their confidence and progress in their chosen subject. The Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge for both our tutors and our students, who had to adapt very quickly to learning and teaching online. Over the last year, classes have gone from strength to strength, delivered via different modes depending on accessibility for the students.

Teaching our beginner class via WhatsApp ensures we can reach as many students as possible while retaining the quality of the class. Many of our learners already used WhatsApp to communicate with their friends and family and we found using a phone reduced pressure on device availability while whole families were working and schooling from home during the peak of lockdown. Read on to find out how an English beginner’s class works on mobile.

Catherine has been an English tutor at ClementJames since 2015. Although she can’t wait to get back to in-person teaching in her classroom, her classes are still engaging and interactive, just as they were pre-pandemic.

Our Pre-entry ESOL class is a small, weekly class. Students can communicate via text, phone and video while the tutor facilitates the session via her computer. Catherine blends important British landmarks with her informative lessons to provide an immersion into culture and language. In the lesson to the right, the different strands of the lesson (comprehension, numbers and rooms of the house) are brought together to consolidate understanding with a call and answer response, reinforced by seeing it spelled out afterwards.

In these smaller groups, tutors are able to focus on high-frequency words with students and sessions can be tailored to individual students. Some activities include story-writing, letter recognition, recognising digraphs (‘sh’, ‘ch’, ‘th’, ‘wh’), writing stories, playing the ‘supermarket’ game, quizzes, and more. These activities build confidence as students learn to rad and understand English in different contexts.

Delivering online English classes via WhatsApp during the pandemic has been a unique way of reaching our learners with limited resources and time and lessons can seamlessly slot into busy schedules. It was important for us to reach as many of our learners as possible and we didn’t want a lack of devices to be an issue for our learners to participate in classes. Our beginner English class and our ICT classes will be the first to return to in-person teaching when it is safe to do so. We’re looking forward to seeing our students in centre when the time comes!

If you are interested in classes at ClementJames, you can register via the online registration form, emailing or calling 07857969806.