Peterhead Language Café – the first of many?


Our Facebook Page: Peterhead Language Cafe 

Following on from the success of Make It Happen, Ssamis, the WEA and Modo have been running a weekly Language café in Peterhead since September.

To meet the learners’ needs, especially work patterns, we are alternating between Wednesday morning and Wednesday evening sessions.

WEA uses a social practice model, where the focus is on everyday English and how to use it, rather than a more formal, grammar focussed approach. This methodology works well in our informal Language Café, where we have had a series of talks and demonstrations such as a CPR workshop by the Fire Brigade, a discussion about the history of Peterhead, and a talk by members of the local camera club, who then took our participants out to take photos in the local area.

St Andrews Day is important in Scotland, but also in Poland, where Andrzejki is celebrated too. In the Language Café we tried Polish fortune telling games, using melted wax in cold water, looking at the shape it formed, and trying to predict the future. Great fun, and not to be taken too seriously! We also sampled some Scottish food and drink, including whisky made in Peterhead in the 1980’s, shortbread and cheese and oatcakes. One of our group recited the entire Robert Burns Address to the Haggis – rapidly ‘translated’ by our tutor Katrena. We improvised and made a ‘haggis’ out of a cheese, with maltesers for eyes.

Although we are having great fun in these sessions, there is plenty of learning too. One of the overall aims of the Ssamis project was to make tangible improvements to migrants’ lives. Our earlier research identified lack of access to ESOL provisions, and loneliness and social isolation, especially in rural areas, as significant issues for migrants in Scotland. Our hope is that this holistic approach to language acquisition and cultural integration will be replicated in other areas in Aberdeen City and Shire.

The WEA recently chaired a Language Café meeting, where ESOL practitioners, Community Learning and Development workers from Aberdeen City and Shire Local Authorities, and other 3rd sector partners came together to explore possibilities for future work and a co-ordinated approach to Language cafes based on Ssamis research and good practice from the Language cafes. 

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First published: 12 December 2016