9 Apr 2011

ACT ESOL is an ongoing practice-led collaborative action research project initiated by Serpentine Projects in partnership with English for Action.

The project brings together English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers and students with participatory theatre practitioners.

Since 2011, Serpentine Projects’ ongoing Implicated Theatre has formed close relationships with migrants’ rights groups, migrant labour unions, researchers and most recently English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers. The project created workshops, theatrical interventions, tool-kits and pedagogical films inspired by real-life struggle. A recurring theme that emerged from the various Implicated Theatre projects has been around language and language based discrimination.

The existence of educational provision for those affected by a new landscape of increased immigration control is under threat, in particular, the impact that cuts to social services and aggressive immigration policies have had on ESOL provision has been devastating. Set against this political backdrop ACT ESOL, an ongoing practice-led collaborative research project, was initiated by Serpentine Projects in partnership with English for Action (EFA). The project brings together ESOL teachers and students with theatre director Frances Rifkin (Implicated Theatre) and artist researcher Nelly Alfandari to develop a political and participatory ESOL approach that combines language-learning with a focus on resistance.

The project was established in 2015 after a pilot workshop series led by Becky Winstanley from EFA, where ACT ESOL explored ways in which radical ESOL and radical theatre could come together in a single project to develop new methodologies for the ESOL classroom. Following the success of the pilot, Implicated Theatre worked with EFA to establish a participatory action research project involving nine ESOL teachers as researchers.

ACT ESOL Language, Resistance, Theatre resource is the result of this three-year research process undertaken by the teachers and theatre practitioners, exploring how to implement Theatre of the Oppressed in the ESOL classroom. The resource shares the experiences and learning, as well as explains the work to different practitioners and students who are interested in Participatory ESOL. The research process was documented through illustrations by Nic Vas, who has illustrated the resource and authoured the comic Speaking Without Words. The collectively developed methodologies shared in this resource are part of a radical ESOL education that is interested in transformation as opposed to inclusion.
Download or order a copy of the ACT ESOL Language, Resistance, Theatre resource.

The resource is designed by Elisabeth Klement.

ACT ESOL Research Group: Nelly Alfandari, Dermot Bryers, Alexander Black, Elizabeth Graham, Amy Jowett, Amal Khalaf, Barbara Labiejko, Lawrence Leason, Liz Mytton, Silva Perin, Frances Rifkin, Jess Walker, Becky Winstanley, Nic Vass.

The ACT ESOL research group will be organising a series of free, in depth, one day training sessions in London, Bristol and in other cities across the UK in 2019/20. To register your interest, order a copy of the resource, and/or share any notes, images and anecdotes of how you have incorporated ACT ESOL into your classroom or organising space, please contact us on: [email protected].

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