English for Grannies

In a corner of the Atrium at Grey Friar’s Church, a group of Ukrainian seniors sit together, studying their English workbooks. Their teacher, Kate, who is fluent in Russian, Ukrainian and English, has been running “English for Grannies” for two years. These men and women, who relocated to the UK due to the conflict, are adapting well to their new lives and language. Most are of retirement age and it’s fair to say that a few years ago, they wouldn’t have imagined their lives being turned upside down, leading them to an unfamiliar country and language. Their determination to make the most of their situation is truly inspiring. While some might think they are too old to learn a new language, this group eagerly embraces the challenge.

Many of the participants also attend college so these Saturday classes offer a valuable opportunity to practice what they’ve learnt. Most importantly, these classes provide a chance to discuss their college work with a bilingual teacher. Kate helps them understand the nuances of the English language, comparing and contrasting it with Ukrainian to make learning more accessible.

“We love and respect Kate, she’s an amazing teacher and very patient, we find it harder to learn a language at an older age”, commented one student.

This group is looking for a home, they need a dedicated quiet space with equipment for teaching. As the group expands the shared space is proving a challenge.
“We’re grateful that we’re able to have this service and grateful for the space at Greyfriars. As we have expanded we need a quiet room out of the corridor, we worry we’re in the way of other patrons here”.

Liudmila – 75 years old

When the conflict started, Liudmila joined her daughter in the UK. Her daughter, a renowned dancer and choreographer in Kyiv, now runs a Ukrainian dance group for children in Berkshire.
Liudmila’s grandsons are still in Ukraine, fighting on the front lines. Her son-in-law has remained behind to care for his two elderly parents and the family lives in constant fear that he could be killed in the bombings. Liudmila has already lost her son in a plane crash a few years ago and cannot bear the thought of losing anyone else.
Liudmila tells us she is very communicative and eager to socialise with people in the UK. She is diligently working to learn English.
Every day, Liudmila longs to return to Ukraine and plans to go home as soon as the war is over.

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