Improving Language, Improving Lives aims to develop and pilot a Citizens' Curriculum for ESOL learners in prisons and community rehabilitation settings.

There is little formal evidence of the scale of ESOL need in the secure estate and amongst those released from custodial settings, nor about the kinds of language-based interventions that would best meet these needs.  Evidence from 2009 Learning and Work Institute research suggests that language skills alone will not be sufficient to support improved learner and social outcomes.

This project will develop and pilot a Citizens' Curriculum approach which, through improved identification of language learning needs and a learner-led bespoke curriculum which interlinks language learning with wider capabilities needed to support self-efficacy in today's society, should better equip learners to progress to further learning, work and ultimately reduce re-offending.  Funded through the Bell Foundation's Language for Change programme, Improving Language, Improving Lives will develop and trial language based interventions for ex/offenders or those working with them, which will help ex/offenders with English as a second language to better access education, employment and re-settlement support.

The project will, through research, development, piloting and evaluation develop two outomces:

  1. A screening tool designed for non-ESOL specialists working in the ‘gate-keeping roles' to be able to identify language needs more effectively and consistently.  By the end of the three year project this screening tool could be available to all National Probation Service staff in the UK and in prisons.  For a copy of the screening tool and guidance to use in your institution, please contact a member of the project team. 
  2. ESOL resources to combine language learning with embedded wider capabilities in numeracy, digital, health financial and civic capabilities (including elements of personal and social development). By the end of the three year project these resources could be available to every prison where ESOL delivery takes place (as many as 110 prisons). The resource pack is now available to download from the Bell Foundation’s website.

We are delighted that this project is a finalist of the 17th British Council ELTons Awards for Innovation in English Language Teaching 2019. Winners will be announced at the award ceremony in central London on Monday 10 June 2019. Find out more.


In partnership with :-
De Montfort University





Funded by :-
The Bell Foundation