For our fifth session we were really excited to come to our local community centre, Levenshulme Inspire to meet women from migrant communities around Levenshulme.
Inspire was a united reformed church redeveloped in 2009 to become a community centre owned and loved by the people of Levenshulme. It has a great cafe, business suites, spacious rooms for venue hire and many, many community groups that come through its doors every day of the week. For us it was no question as to where we would run our sessions.
With the help of Susannah who runs the cafe and Kate, who is the coordinator for the Inspired people’s project, we managed to gather contacts and sort a room big enough for the demand of English lessons.
We had a huge response, with around 20 – 30 women in total throughout the session. We ran out of chairs.
We started off with introductions as this was the first time we had worked together. This was to figure our general English level and learner needs. There was a strong representation of Pakistani and Bangladeshi learners. Many had been in the UK for a number of years and so lexis resource (knowledge of key words – pronunciation and some more uncommon words) was pretty high amongst our class. With these women, grammar and sentence structure was the biggest area to develop, as they had used key words to be understood most of the time.
We also had women who had been in the country for a number of months. These women were careful to speak for fear of making a mistake. As a result they had carefully planned sentence, but not as much fluency or vocabulary as the women who had been here longer.
Our most important observation however, was that everyone seemed to know each other, regardless of English language level, age, nationality, religion, personal interest. This suggested to us that there were already strong community ties running through different communities in Levenshulme, Gorton, Longsight. An area for further thought!
We started our vocabulary, going through the different words for the ingredients and process. At first the women thought we were just going to show them ourselves how to make the Pierogis, so many were extremely excited when everyone was instructed to prepare the table for rolling, cutting and folding.
There was a flurry of photo taking, chatting, talking about the different fillings being used, and the different ways to fold. This was when we discovered that there were Bangladeshi dumplings quite similar to Chinese Wontons, and that there were sweet dumplings too. There was a lot of interest in the way to make the dough as well, many of the women there made chapatis in a different process.
We managed to cook all the dumplings up and get them served with a salad. For our follow up English task, the women were not interested as they were getting to know each other and us a bit more, so we left that to one side.
Overall, a great first session in a new area! Levenshulme Inspire is a friendly, welcome place which serves all corners of the communities that make up this South Manchester neighbourhood. We are really looking forward to our May sessions!