We meet Luc, who went from speaking minimal English to being an assistant teacher at Scalabrini’s English School.
The importance of the English School for integration
One of the greatest barriers people meet when coming to South Africa is that of language. Without adequate understanding of South African languages, it becomes difficult to find employment, housing and medical care. Learning languages is the first step to surviving and integrating in South Africa, which is why Scalabrini’s English School serves a crucial role.
The English School at Scalabrini has developed a specialised curriculum specifically for migrants and refugees in a South African context.
Luc’s journey to South Africa
Luc, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was sent to South Africa by his family who wanted him to study further. However, once in Cape Town, the situation back home took an unexpected turn. “My family was attacked and robbed by unknown armed men, my father was fatally shot,” explains Luc. Some people might come to South Africa as migrants, but are thrown into a position of applying for asylum when their home is no longer safe.
Becoming a teacher
Luc’s neighbor connected him to the English School at Scalabrini. He spoke barely any English, and joined the Beginners Course. Luc excelled at the course, passing exams with flying colours. “I came back to do more [English levels] but I had completed all the classes’. Instead, the English School at Scalabrini suggested he become a teaching assistant. “I didn’t believe in myself and thought it was a miracle,” say Luc. “It was a miracle! I told my mom about it and she didn’t believe it.”
“I didn’t believe in myself and thought it was a miracle, it was a miracle! I told my mom about it and she didn’t believe it.”
Luc’s success is, in part, thanks to his interest in the language. “To improve your English you have to speak, listen to English lessons, songs and newspapers and watch international channels that talk about the world.”
Ultimately Luc would like to study at the University of Cape Town. For now it’s not an option. “I’m currently working small jobs – fixing small things, telephone, mending electronics” – which, he explains, is not nearly enough to cover university fees.
Luc explains that he was different before the course. “I was shy. Scalabrini and English school is my foundation. Even if I go back to my country one day, it will stay with me.”
Luc’s journey to South Africa was also featured in the book In My Shoes, a collection of English School students’ stories.
“I was shy. Scalabrini and English school is my foundation. Even if I go back to my country one day, it will stay with me.”