TO boost their competence in the language, the Human Dignity Centre in Victoria Drive has been providing children from the Walmer Township with English lessons as part of its upliftment programme.
The centre addresses the issues of children in crisis and supports them, and their parents in an effort to restore a functional and safe home environment for the children.
One of its facilities is a school with classes from pre-primary to Grade 2. In addition, the centre runs an aftercare programme for children outside of its school.
The aftercare, run by volunteers, offers various classes including its English programme.
Lessons are held twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with between five and 14 primary school children attending at a time.
According to volunteer tutor Catherine Lochhead, many of the children cannot speak a word of English.
“There is a girl in Grade 5 that cannot speak English at all,” said Lochhead, a fourth-year interior design student at NMMU.
The tutors go through various skills with the children such as teaching them the alphabet by going through the different letters each week.
“We teach them how to write each letter, in upper and lower case, how to sound out the letter and also how to put letters together to make a word,” said Lochhead. The children will also learn comprehension skills by reading a story and answering questions posed by the tutors.
Lochhead said the syllabus has changed. Previously it had been taught in isiXhosa.
“It is now taught in English so the younger kids pick it up quicker but the older ones who were taught in isiXhosa struggle.”
The children are encouraged to speak English to each other as well as to the tutors.
Centre director Peter Freeman said their aim is to prepare the children to understand and be competent in English.
The centre currently has four volunteer teachers.
Anyone interested in assisting the Human Dignity Centre in any way, can call (041)366-2083.