This month marked the anniversary of the first UK lockdown. While it has been a difficult twelve months for many reasons, we were delighted to hear many positive comments and memories during our session on ‘The year that was…’ as volunteers and learners spoke of taking the time to be kinder to themselves, to reflect, to learn, and to practise new skills.

We started the month with a ‘spring in our step’! With gardens and local parks regaining their colour and evenings staying lighter for longer, there was definite cause for optimism during our session on ‘Spring’. In addition to hearing about aspects of the season which the EfW community love so much, it was also an opportunity to talk about the various ways we use the word ‘spring’ in the English language. Some examples were:

Spring up

Spring in your step

Spring has sprung

Hot springs

Spring is in the air

The cat crouched, ready to spring

Coiled springs

The Beginner-Intermediate group had a rather practical start to the month, learning useful vocabulary associated with DIY and household appliances. During lockdown, it seems that many of us have used the time to do odd jobs around the home and never has it been a more useful time to learn words like paintbrush, screwdriver and spirit level!

News channels may be dominated by Covid but we used our ‘What’s in the News?’ session to focus on stories of a different kind, those which we found funny, interesting, unusual or entertaining. One example shared by a learner was the cat which delayed a train in London by climbing onto its roof, a story which apparently made its way into the Turkish press!

Team leaders took turns to deliver three sessions this month, ‘Spring’, ‘Mothering Sunday’ and an EfW version of ‘Ready Steady Cook’. The latter provided an opportunity to discuss some very creative dishes and the Beginner-Intermediate group were able to transfer vocabulary from the earlier session and use it to explain their cooking methods.

A frequent comment we receive regarding the online sessions is that they have enabled our community to get to know people from other teams. We are constantly learning new facts about each other, including the huge array of skills and talents hidden amongst our volunteers and learners! We have artists, chefs and musicians, to name but a few, and many have shared beautiful examples of paintings and crafts during our sessions.

As we approach the Easter break, the EfW team has taken time to reflect on the changes throughout the year. English for Women moved online last March in the hope that we could continue to reduce isolation in some way. Many within our community juggle EfW sessions with work, device-sharing and, up until recently, home-schooling, so it’s truly wonderful to see our numbers continue to grow. EfW has now delivered over 100 sessions online, both conversational and vocabulary-based, and as ever, we are immensely grateful to our extraordinary team of volunteers who continue to demonstrate such enthusiasm and commitment.

Have a wonderful Easter break, stay safe and we’ll see you soon,

– the EfW Team