400 years ago Shakespeare wrote passionately about his contemporary society. Little did he know, perhaps, that his themes of love, discrimination, ambition, order and disorder, among others, would be prevalent and inspiring today. For a group of students from the Cardinal Hume Centre, Shakespeare’s anniversary provided the opportunity and motivation to learn English in a unique project. Students participated in a three week project learning about some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays from academics, participated in discussions and ended the course by giving presentations on a literary figure from their own culture.
The Cardinal Hume Centre is an Oak grantee which works to provide homeless people, badly housed families, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and other people in need, with the skills they need to overcome poverty.
It is estimated that around 800,000 people living in England and Wales have little or no English. Lack of language skills is a huge barrier to integration into any community, and English programmes such as the Shakespeare Project for the Cardinal Hume Centre’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) can help facilitate the learning of English for new arrivals.
Cardinal Hume’s approach is simple. By first asking ‘what do you want to achieve?’, any person who comes to the centre has their needs individually tailored for. Work is targeted at helping to overcome the barriers they face in achieving this goal (lack of skills, education, income, knowledge, poor health etc). The many services that the centre provides are focused on four areas of need: income, housing, education, skills and legal status.
 Bingham, J, “The 800,000 people living in Britain with little or no English”, The Telegraph, 2014.