English Language Teaching for non-English speaking mothers


ESOL Stepping Stones; first steps for mums and babies was developed as part of the LuCid knowledge exchange strand. The project ran for five years and reached a wide range of settings across the UK and beyond. The project has now finished and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support.


The ESOL course was developed for non-English speaking mothers and their babies.   These mothers comprise a particularly vulnerable group who are less likely to engage with services and support groups aimed at new parents, such as Children’s Centre activities, due to linguistic and cultural factors. As a result, parents from this particular demographic are in many cases unable to access vital information about parenting, health, and general child development. These mothers also have many barriers to overcome in order to attend standard English language courses such as lack of childcare, finance, and sometimes cultural expectations. At the same time they are expected to liaise with the wide range of contexts and settings associated with childrearing. They can also be vulnerable to social exclusion due to linguistic and financial barriers which can lead to a range of negative outcomes for the families.To date there is no formal English language teaching provision available for this particular group and there is an urgent need to address this gap.

Our programme delivered functional language skills in combination with health and parenting information and was designed as a structured 12 week mother and baby ‘stay and play’ group. Each 45 minute session focused on one particular aspect of family daily life (e.g. health, housing, shopping) and consisted of infant-centred activities and informal language instruction. Settings’ staff received free eTraining, materials and support to deliver the course.

The programme provided schools and cultural and community centres with a free ready-made course, materials and training that could be used in multilingual settings. Our aims were to

  • Increase the English Language skills of low income non-English speaking mothers
  • Increase levels of confidence and assertiveness in the target group
  • Provide examples of language rich activities which will be of benefit to the child (e.g. book reading, storytelling, singing and rhyme)
  • Increase the uptake of key services by the target group due to improved linguistic skills and confidence
  • Add to the skill set and resources of community venues’ staff by providing full training, materials and on-going support

The programme was delivered initially by staff in 10 settings across Greater Manchester in Spring 2018.

Start Date: September 2017          Duration: 5 years