The UK has critical skills gaps in technical occupations and a significant influx of potential labour (refugees, asylum seekers, and people with newly settled status). However, this potential workforce face language barriers when accessing vocational skills training in the UK. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teaching and learning is a key first step towards helping people gain English language skills and integrate into the UK workforce.
The need for ESOL learning is growing as the levels of inward migration increases (440,000 net inward in 2022). The demand for classes in the UK rose to 180,000 places in 2022. Typically, traditional face to face ESOL classes can have adult students who speak 14 or more different first languages. It is difficult to address individual learner needs in such multilingual classes and demands on tutor support typically result in a slow pace of learning. The challenge faced by trainers is how to effectively deliver vocational/technical subjects with simultaneous translation to mixed cohorts, making ESOL agile and inclusive.
This project will trial Microsoft Translator to explore whether it can support live translation for digital and construction courses in multiple languages, simultaneously, to increase the pace of lessons and reduce the time to competence for ESOL learners. The project will review how this approach can support learning in the classroom and remote learning, via mobile devices.
If successful, the project will create resources for teachers to enable the approach to be replicated and scaled across the sector.