MOST Polish people in Worksop have their first formal lesson in English at North Notts College.
Grace Painter (pictured, right) has been teaching English there for eight years and says Polish people make up around 80 per cent of her students.
She is Polish herself and moved here 11 years ago after marrying a Worksop man in Poland.
She said: “A lot of my students are in low skilled jobs and that can be through lack of qualifications or the lack of language skills to be able to do what they are qualified to do.”
“There are university graduates making sandwiches.”
Grace, 42, who worked as an English teacher in Poland, said the majority of her college learners are aged 20 to 40, with some over 50.
She also teaches 16 to 19-year-olds who are in school but have not lived here long and whose language skills need a boost.
“There are five levels in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), starting from complete beginners,” explained Grace.
“As you go through the levels they become more advanced and include speaking, listening, reading and writing.”
“Learners understand that learning English is an investment in their future and if they were living in Poland and wanted to learn English they would have to pay.”
Grace is from Zywiec and went to university in Opole near the German border.
She was teaching English at a private company when a friend introduced her to her future husband Glen Painter, who was working in Poland.
After they married they carried on living in Poland for three years and their daughter Emily, 12, was born there.
Then they decided to move to Worksop and their son Jacob, nine, was born here.
Grace said: “When I first moved here it was before other Poles started moving here and I didn’t know a single other Polish person living in Worksop apart from a few from the old migration after the Second World War. I’m glad that there are more Polish here now and that I can buy Polish food but I have found that the attitudes of English people have changed.”
“When I first came here and told people I was from Poland they were excited and asked me about it, but now when I say I’m from Poland people’s reaction is ‘oh another one’.”