SLB have teamed up with the federation Salut Mental Catalunya (SMC) and the ELT initiative Mental Health Friendly to collaborate on a project to pilot English teaching materials. The materials are designed for use in community social clubs attended by people with a history of mental illness. The overall objective of the project is to develop a set of materials which offer a taster of what an English class is like. The idea is to engage the interest and build the confidence of the participants in such a way as to encourage them to consider joining regular English classes in the future. In this way participants can continue expanding their social and work skills while integrating with the wider community. SMC and the academy Oxford TEFL are already jointly funding a regular place for a student from one of the clubs, and the hope is that this type of inclusive provision can be extended in the future.
The Maletín Pedagógico
The materials being piloted have been developed by Andrew Dodd, who was very much involved with the creation of Mental Health Friendly. Andrew, an experienced English teacher who has been working with a mental health day centre in the Nou Barris district of Barcelona for the past two years, has created, along with his students, a maletín pedagógico or “teaching briefcase” designed for use in similar contexts. The materials are aimed at beginners, but differ from conventional teaching materials in some key ways. For example:
- The materials have instructions in Catalan and are designed to be delivered by local educators already working in the social clubs. These educators may not have had any TEFL training and perhaps have a relatively low level of English, around A2 or B1
- The classes may take place predominantly in Catalan or Spanish. The maletín has audio files in English for modeling pronunciation.
- There is a strong focus on what Andrew calls “cognitive workout” – activities and games designed to test the learners’ memories, concentration and learning capabilities in a fun way
- The idea is not so much to teach English, but to give a taster of what an English class might include.
How SLB is collaborating
SLB are currently providing one teacher to pilot the maletín with a group based in the Born neighbourhood of Barcelona. This social club is run by Radio Nikosia, a local association with active involvement in community projects focused on mental health. While the materials are being piloted by non-EFL educators in the rest of the clubs, SMC and Mental Health Friendly also wanted the feedback of a qualified and experienced EFL teacher to inform the development of the materials. We were very happy to oblige, and hope to participate further as the project develops.
SMC performs a vital role in raising awareness of mental health issues in Catalonia, as well as organising and coordinating a wide variety of groups across the autonomous region. You can support SMC by making a tax-deductible donation via their collaboration page here (in Catalan).
You can also listen to live broadcasts and podcasts by Radio Nikosia here (in Spanish).
SLB’s involvement in this project is part of our cooperative commitment to engage with the wider community and develop socially inclusive projects. In the past we have collaborated with such organisations as The Phoenix Projects in Latin America and T’Acompanyem in Barcelona. If you would like to work with us on a similar project, or would just like more information about our cooperative, please get in touch!