ESOL students Mind the Gap experience

Last month saw the culmination of this year’s Mind the Gap experience, with an afternoon of performances at the Kiln theatre in Kilburn.

English as a Second Language (ESOL) students from United Colleges Group’s Maida Vale, Wembley and Willesden campuses performed several sketches of their own devising, and for the majority, this was their first time performing on a theatre stage to an audience.

The performances were just one part the creative journey that the students have been a part of this academic year. They have been lucky enough to work with some brilliant artists and creatives in poetry, dance and singing workshops to explore the joy and power of performance in building confidence, self-pride, teamwork skills and of course a sense of community with an environment that embraces compassion, understanding and the right for all young people to access creativity and theatre.

Learners have shown remarkable progress through engaging in various theatrical activities. Initially, many of these learners faced challenges in expressing themselves due to language barriers. However, they have discovered a new avenue for communication beyond words. Through expressive movements, gestures, and facial expressions, they have found a way to convey emotions and stories. Each session provided a platform for these learners to step out of their comfort zones and show confidence in their ability to communicate effectively.

Aaliyah Golaid, ESOL Lecturer said: "It's been wonderful seeing the students grow and develop their skills in the drama workshops which has positively impacted their ESOL classes. Through drama classes their communication skills improved, their confidence levels increased, they honed their creativity skills, developed their comedic timing, demonstrated excellent improvisation skills and followed direction well.

"Students worked so well in groups and came up with their own storylines which they developed and refined as the weeks progressed and they were fantastic on performance day!" 

Mihaela Serban, TLA Development Coach: “As with every year the project takes place, I noticed how my class gradually grew in confidence - expressing themselves, asserting their own space, their own voice, becoming aware of others and developing team work, camaraderie and then supporting each other through the stages until the final performance. The sense of achievement, of pride and self-confidence they get at the end of the final performance cannot be equalled by any other activity carried out in class, and that is what motivates me to carry out the extra work and commitment to the project each year.” 

Here are comments from some of the learners:

“For me, I’ve learnt new words. It boosted my confidence. I was speaking only English and no other languages. On the performance day, we respected each other while other groups performed.”

“I enjoyed the drama sessions because I like the acting.”

“I was afraid and anxious on the performance day, but I did well.”

“I liked it because of the drama lesson that teaches you how to talk in front of people on the stage without fear or shame.”

“Actually, I like Drama. It was awesome most hilarious.”

“Was great and I had fun time. I learned new words. I hope we do it again.”

“I love drama class because it's fun and I learn new words.”

“Drama is good. I loved working with the team, the collective team where everyone works to achieve more progress. The latter is a lot of work, especially recently when we showed it to a few people.”

“I work with my teams .and was amazing I liked how we’re playing together.”

“I am so happy I did this. I think I have learned a lot.”

“It was so scary to do the performance in front of other people. I didn't think I could do it. I felt very shy... but now I am happy.”

“I think my speaking is very bad and I didn't want to speak on the stage but I felt good. Like a celebrity!”

“I enjoy like drama because it is fun.”

For more information about the Kiln and the Mind the Gap program.