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Did you know that we run ESOL courses for ages 16-18 and post 19? These can really benefit you if English is your second language and you live in the UK. Find out how the course has helped our past students to improve their English and, ultimately, change their lives for the better.  


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Svitlana Toma – Adult ESOL

Svitlana Toma is originally from Ukraine, she was a university graduate who had worked for 15 years as an engineer. She moved to the UK six years ago and, after living here for several weeks, Svitlana realised that her level of English needed to improve so she enrolled in an ESOL Level 1 course for adults at Merton College.

She says: “I had studied English as a subject at school but it was a difficult time in my life because I was growing up in hard times when the Ukraine was under the Soviet Union – and our classes were so poor that we didn’t really learn much at all. It was also very expensive for ordinary people to study English and there were many restrictions for Soviet people wanting to learn the language.

I found lessons at Merton College to be like a special gift given to me, perhaps for my strong desire to improve my English as a second language for a better life. As students we worked together with teachers to improve our writing and speaking skills. 

Another big advantage of studying at Merton was that after taking a test or exam, I could see the real progress I was making. During my course, I met new people from all over the world learning English like me. They are now my friends and we practise our English together. I went on to complete ESOL Level 2 at Merton and, in addition, studied Functional Skills Mathematics Level 2. I did not actually need to improve my Maths but I saw it as another opportunity to learn English. 

As a result of my news skills, I was then able to look for employment and was offered a good job in London. I now work as a CAD Technician within a Mechanical and Electrical team at Calfordseaden, a company in Orpington, where I’m in charge of creating AutoCAD drawings and schematics.

Moving to the UK and studying English have both enriched my life and changed it for the better. I remember watching a movie for the first time in English and I was crying because the plot was very sad – I then unexpectedly realised that I had just understood the whole film! I am passionate about continuing to develop my English and I’m very grateful to all my teachers for the skills they have helped me to learn.”


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Tzesila Prrenisasi – ESOL 16-18 year olds

After moving to the UK from Greece in 2018, Tzesila Prrenisasi joined the Entry Level 2 ESOL for 16-18 year olds at Merton College. While working as a barista at Starbucks for four days, she spent the rest of the week concentrating on her studies. Tzesila has really been enjoying her learning experience.

She says: "My time at College was fun, but at the same time we learnt a lot. Our teachers were incredible, without them I would not have been able to learn English. They have also helped me with life outside the College too. I came to this country for a better life and Merton College has helped me with the most important thing - to learn English. 


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Truong Bui – Adult ESOL

When Truong Bui came to the UK from Vietnam, he knew very little English. He found his first few weeks in London to be challenging as he tried to teach himself to speak the language. Truong then decided that a college course would help him to improve his English skills more quickly, so he enrolled on an ESOL course at Merton College.

He says: “The college has all the facilities that students need to succeed. I was very happy studying at Merton and thought I could also learn some new skills at the same time, as well as English.

My first day was really interesting and it went well. I made some new friends in my class, they were of different ages and came from various countries. I met the teacher too. I felt a bit shy at the beginning but everyone was very friendly, so I soon became more confident and the teacher put me at ease.

Our teacher helped everyone to read, speak, listen and write good English and my classmates were ready to support me whenever needed. I had such a positive impression of the college and its teaching staff.

My English has improved a lot as I’ve worked through my studies my and I’m thinking of enrolling on to the next level because it is a very good college with fantastic teachers.”

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Vangeliya Traykova – Adult ESOL

Vangeliya Traykova is from Bulgaria and has lived in London for seven years. When she arrived in the country, Vangeliva knew little English. Her first job was as a live-in babysitter, caring for two small boys and she learnt some of the language from them. Once her contract ended she wanted to apply for a different job, but she needed to improve her English first.

A chance meeting led Vangeliva to enrol in an ESOL course at Merton College.

She says: “On the first day of my new job in a cleaning company, I met the person who changed my life. I was cleaning a client’s flat and she offered me a job in a restaurant. I accepted it and worked there for five years. The people I worked for gave me the motivation to improve my language skills and then one of my colleagues told me about the ESOL courses at Merton College. From September 2018 I became a part of this friendly and very welcoming family.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of my teachers and my colleagues who supported my work and gave me a chance to change my life for the better”.


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Luiz Abrantes – Adult ESOL

Luiz Abrantes arrived in London from Bazil in 2019. He moved in with his cousin, who suggested that he look into Merton College’s ESOL courses to learn English. Luiz enrolled and started the course in January this year.

Luiz says: “When my course started I was really nervous, but the students and my teacher were so friendly to me. The atmosphere inside the classroom and in the campus is always really positive and welcoming. As students, we enjoy working together and we support each other a lot. My teacher helps and encourages us. I have learnt a lot throughout my ESOL course and I’m very proud of myself as my English is improving quickly.

Just a month after starting the course, I began working as a driver delivering food to people’s homes on my motorcycle. The job can be difficult when it’s raining and cold, but it gives me the flexibility to choose when I work and I like riding my motorcycle. I also enjoy living in London, there are so many people from different countries and cultures.

I am pleased to be working as a delivery driver now, but when I feel more confident with my English skills, I wish to do a different job. My teacher has advised me to check out other courses at Merton College for inspiration, as I’m eager to learn new things.

I just want to say a big thank you to my teacher, my fellow students and work colleagues for their support. I feel happy taking the course at Merton because it is very a good college.”