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27th Sep, 2021

Joanna’s talking about breaking down barriers

Rob George 24th Jul, 2021

A WORCESTER teaching assistant has overcome her own language barriers to help other parents who speak little English with home learning throughout the pandemic.

Joanna Kuzimska, 38, who moved from Poland to the UK in 2005, produced education packs and recorded videos in her native language for parents at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Warndon.

The lifeline meant parents were able to help their children with English and Maths during the two lockdowns that forced the closure of schools.

During the first lockdown last year, Polish-speaking parents at St Joseph’s told teachers they were finding it difficult to help their children with the work they were being set at home because they struggled to understand it themselves.

Joanna came up with a set of games translated into Polish to help with grammar, sentence structure and phonics, and produced a series of maths videos, also in Polish.

Joanna did not speak any English herself when she first moved to the UK.

In 2015, she enrolled at Evesham College — which is part of WCG — to study to become a teaching assistant, and fast forward five years, she is now the school’s English as an Additional Language (EAL) support in September will become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA).

The mother of two said: “16 years ago when I sat for eight hours a day with two English girls not being able to say any English words it was a nightmare for me. I still remember thinking they were laughing at me, but they were lovely and I learned a lot.

“My own experiences mean I can understand how hard it can be for EAL children and parents. I know how I felt when I did not have a clue what people wanted from me because I couldn’t understand them.

“Polish education is completely different than English, even maths methods are different, so with the language barriers that also existed, it was difficult for parents who were being asked to home-school.

“Afterwards, I received lovely e-mails from parents who said they had learned a lot themselves, as well as helping their children,” she added.

Louise Bury, headteacher at St Joseph’s Catholic School said “Joanna is a vital part of the team here at St Joseph’s.

“Her dedication, commitment and creativity in all she does is inspirational.

“She provides a vital link for us with our Polish families and what she has started is only the beginning. I am looking forward to supporting her in her career development.”

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