‘Discover London’ is an annual fixture in our ESOL training delivery calendar and like most things recently, the event was very different from other years.

Woman holding a mug up to the screen.,

Due to remote working restrictions, the 2020 Discover London event included a four-week programme of cultural heritage and language learning, culminating in a virtual Celebration Day.

While remote delivery necessitated change and adaptation, it also offered unexpected opportunities and benefits:

  • This year’s Discover London event was more accessible to learners with childcare needs.
  • We were joined by volunteers from London Universities Student Action for Refugees network (STAR), Kathrina and Annabelle. Kathrina supported the sessions throughout the term and on the day, despite being several thousand miles away in Malaysia!
  • Learners were taken on a virtual tour of the British Museum, using resources on the museum website and Google Maps Street View.

Embedding ICT skills

Tutor Stephanie demonstrated and explained the use of Google Maps and Google Earth, embedding ICT skills into the event. Learners had the opportunity to virtually visit famous landmarks, in London and around the world, giving them greater confidence to visit new places in London, when they are able to do so.

In preparation for the Celebration Day, learners worked with STAR volunteers to develop presentations and performances. They were also given extra support to access Zoom where necessary.

Having fun while learning about life in the UK

A woman playing the harp.

Our Celebration Day began with a live streamed group ‘Cake in a Mug’ baking session, followed by a talent showcase, featuring class members singing, playing musical instruments and presenting cooking tutorials. We were also treated to a very special lunch-time concert by our volunteers, who are both talented musicians.

An official Blue Plaque tour guide, James Ferguson, gave us a virtual tour of London, using aerial drones, slides, photographs and Google Earth. The day ended with a quiz about the UK and closed with a sing-a-long aided by a specially produced and subtitled YouTube video by our volunteers.

The 2020 Discover London Conversation Class Celebration Day supported learners in improving their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. In preparing for the event, participants were supported to gain greater confidence through planning, refining and delivering their performances and extended and embedded their ICT and functional skills by trip planning, map reading, budgeting and accessing new platforms including Zoom and Google Earth.

Deborah Searchwell