English School
One of the biggest problems faced by refugees and migrants integrating into South Africa is the language barrier. The English School not only helps students learn South Africa’s bridge language, but also gives students a chance to interact and form supportive communities during classes and extra-curriculars.
The English School operates over 3 terms per year, registering around 450 students per term. There are 10 levels of English classes, ranging from Beginner to Advanced. The Scalabrini Centre English School also uses a special English in South Africa beginner’s curriculum developed especially for refugees and migrants.
Some of our students have previously had very minimal exposure to formal education, and as such often struggle with the basics of literacy. The English School has a Read and Write programme where students can attend one-on-one sessions using games, books and worksheets to improve their literacy and eventually enable them to participate in regular English classes.
While we try our best to place students in the levels in which they are best able to progress with their English skills, some students still struggle with a few basics in class. Our tutoring programme ensures that as class teachers identify the need for additional help, students can receive support in smaller, more nurturing group sessions.
Further, the English School offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities in English Alive; among which are drama classes, conversation club, study skills, health literacy (known as Body Mapping), and business English.
  • To improve English communication skills in order to facilitate socioeconomic integration.
  • To provide opportunities for networking and community building amongst those who attend and work in the English school.
  • To deliver services in line with the Scalabrini values.
English School
Presently the English School enrols around 450 students per term from a variety of African countries. Classes run from Monday to Saturday each week, offering 10 levels from Beginners to Advanced. The Scalabrini English School has developed a South African based curriculum designed to assist our clients with their integration in Cape Town. English In SA is taught in several of our beginner’s level courses. Classes are taught by a team of around 25 volunteer teachers who donate their time. Each level is 12 weeks long and culminates in written and oral examinations and a graduation ceremony.
English Alive
The English Alive programme is a co-curricular set of activities divided into weekly classes and ad-hoc workshops. The aim of English Alive is to support English learning and practise the language learnt in class in a more informal setting. English Alive activities vary from term to term but include things like conversation club, peer to peer study groups, Business English and debating. Xhosa and Afrikaans classes give students further opportunities to assimilate into the communities in which they live. As well as language skills, English Alive runs workshops to promote the well-being and integration of students. To this end, English Alive hosts a number of workshops each term, in topics such as health literacy and human rights.
Read and Write
The Read and Write programme uses materials from the Shine literacy centre to help students who struggle with literacy. Volunteers often comment on how rewarding this programme is, as many students blossom very quickly under the one-on-one support.
Traditionally, for the purposes of placement in English School, literacy is seen as a binary – either students are able to read and write, or they are not. What has not been taken into account is that students may exhibit some literate competencies that strike them out of the “illiterate” group, but are still unable to cope in regular curricular classes because of underdeveloped reading and writing capability. We see students across all levels from beginner to upper intermediate that are unable to progress at the pace of their peers because of underdeveloped literacy skills.
To volunteer
English School is always looking for volunteers to teach classes, facilitate English Alive sessions, and tutor struggling students. If you’re interested in volunteering, please forward your CV, time, day and date availability and programme preferences to operations@scalabrini.org.za and the English School manager will follow up with you about available volunteer positions.