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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 at Merton.

Svitlana Toma ESOL web small

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.”