Beth helping to make learning English fun

Ballyclare student, Beth Topley.
Ballyclare student, Beth Topley.

A Ballyclare languages student is taking part in a scheme to help migrant and refugee children learn English.

Nineteen-year-old Beth Topley who is studying language and linguistics at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, is involved in a Barnardo’s volunteering scheme which helps youngsters from overseas to integrate into their new communities through a play-based ‘Language is Fun’ programme.

Beth has been volunteering with a seven-year-old girl from Sudan since last autumn. Arranged and supported by Barnardo’s NI, she visits the child in her home once a week for an hour and uses play to help with language development.

Beth said: “It’s been really interesting and challenging. We play memory games with flash cards to help her learn her colours and numbers and story cards so she use her imagination to make up stories. I’m amazed at how far she has come since we started.

“The family speak Arabic at home but just the one hour extra a week seems to really help with her language skills.

“I would like to go on to teach English as a foreign language, so this is really good experience. You have to be prepared every single week with a lesson plan.”

Beth added: “I would definitely advise anyone thinking about volunteering with Barnardo’s to give it a go but you have to be prepared to make the commitment.”

For further information about student volunteering opportunities with Barnardo’s NI please visit or contact children’s services volunteering advisor Helen Connolly by ringing 028 9067 2366.