English Language Teaching for non-English speaking mothers


We are developing a new ESOL course for non-English speaking mothers and their babies to be rolled out early 2018. These mothers comprise a particularly vulnerable group who are less likely to engage with services and support groups aimed at new parents, such as Sure Start Centre activities, due to linguistic and cultural factors. As a result, parents from this particular demographic are in many cases unable to access vital information about parenting, health, and general child development. These mothers also have many barriers to overcome in order to attend standard English language courses such as lack of childcare, finance, and sometimes cultural expectations. At the same time they are expected to liaise with the wide range of contexts and settings associated with bringing up children. They can also be vulnerable to social exclusion due to linguistic and financial barriers which can lead to a range of negative outcomes for the families. To date there is no formal English language teaching provision available for this particular group and there is an urgent need to address this gap.

What will the programme do?

Our programme will deliver functional language skills in combination with health and parenting information and is designed as a structured 12 week mother and baby ‘stay and play’ group. Each 45 minute session will focus on one particular aspect of family daily life (e.g. health, housing, shopping) and will consist of infant-centred activities and informal language instruction. Staff at each venue will receive free training, materials and support to deliver the course.

The programme will provide schools and Sure Start, cultural and community centres with a free ready-made course, materials and training that can be used in multilingual settings. Our aims are to

  • Increase the English Language skills of non-English speaking mothers
  • Increase levels of confidence and assertiveness in the target group
  • Provide examples of language rich activities which will be of benefit to the child (e.g. book reading, storytelling, singing and rhyme)
  • Increase the uptake of key services by the target group due to improved linguistic skills and confidence
  • Add to the skill set and resources of community venues’ staff by providing full training, materials and on-going support

Where will the programme take place?

The programme will be delivered initially at 10 venues across the Manchester area and then developed into eLearning materials so that it can be rolled out more widely.

How do I find out more/ get involved?

For more information about the project and how you/ your setting can get involved, please contact Sharon Freeman (sharon.freeman@manchester.ac.uk or 0161 275 2571).


Project Team: Thea Cameron-Faulkner (Lead), Katy Finch, Sharon Freeman, Elena Lieven and Ludovica Serratrice

Start Date: September 2017          Duration: 1 year