Project Highlight – English Speaking Club
English Speaking Club (ESC) is one of Istanbul&I’s most popular and successful projects, carrying on since November 2017 and helping a number of people in Istanbul learn and improve their English speaking skills. The project was initiated by the Executive Coordinator at the time, Teymour Ashkan, while Junko Kanero was the very first manager of the club. Held twice a week, in three group levels, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, the club hosts participants from multicultural backgrounds and different age groups coming together to learn English in enjoyable group sessions under three moderators. English Speaking Club was previously held at the Istanbul&I office and it lasted for two hours. After the pandemic started last year, ESC was moved online and is still continuing on Zoom, with more participation from all over Turkey.
The ESC manager, Feroz Alizai, loves managing the club to help participants learn English and does not like turning them away when the session exceeds the participation quota. Helene Nozon, a frequent moderator at the club, thinks the project also helps break down barriers to have nice conversations with non-native English speakers, and develop strong friendships with regular attendees.
Every session, Istanbul&I volunteers dedicate their time and effort to moderating each group, introducing a topic for participants to discuss according to their level. Discussion topics revolve around simple daily activities for beginners, a bit more complex topics like TV shows and movies for the intermediate level, and debatable and opinionated topics like dreams and sleep for the advanced group. Every participant is given the opportunity to speak in order to help improve their fluency, and group discussions are often kept light-hearted and fun.
When asked about the reason he likes ESC, Paz Paulsen, a volunteer at Istanbul&I and a frequent moderator at the club, answered “I love how casual it is because I work as a university teacher and sometimes it can be a little stressful knowing I have to teach something, but I like how with ESC it is more casual and relaxed. I think we learn better when we are relaxed and I like how we don’t have to stick to one topic.”
Moreover, participants feel ESC is a place not only to learn English, but to also spend some time having nice conversations with a variety of friends from diverse backgrounds. Isabelle McRae, another ESC moderator, also stated that “It is a fun opportunity to share something I know very well, which is speaking English with different people from around the world.”
ESC has turned from being just a small club helping the people of Istanbul learn and practice their English, to a more meaningful platform for participants and moderators to connect and form friendships. The club allows people to have intellectual, serious and light-hearted conversations with different people. Reem, a regular attendee of ESC, enjoys every session and thinks this is a great opportunity to practice her English during COVID and meet new people from different cultures every session.
Interested in participating in our English Speaking Club? It takes place every Monday and Saturday from 20:30-21:30. After Ramadan, the hours will return to 19:00-20:00. Here is the link to register