In 2015, my family and I settled down in the UK and we turned the page into a new life. It was really exciting and wonderful but it was scary as well. I finished university in my country, but I needed to develop my English. I think if you do not know the language of the country you live in, you cannot be free. I never felt free while I did not speak English or could not express myself in the UK.
For this reason my first days here were very difficult. The language barrier greatly reduced my self-confidence, but I did not give up and I bought grammar books and started to learn to English at home by myself.
I came across The WEA, where I learnt English through a variety of short courses. At the same time, I attended a refugee centre language course and was a volunteer student at a teacher training course at Coventry University. I began to understand English and I started to speak – my self-confidence increased. In 2016 I enrolled at Coventry College, and last July I finished Level 1 ESOL and I am now doing GCSE English. In the future I want to gain a master’s degree in education about comparative literature.
I soon became confident enough to carry out all my work and my family responsibilities without help. I know that success is not a coincidence, so I study hard to develop myself; I use opportunities and create new ones. Now I stand on my own two feet as an independent woman. I believe that lifelong learning transforms into a massive power and with this power it is possible to achieve everything. I hope to achieve more and be a good role model for my students and children.
I think every learning process creates change in different dimensions. In my new life in the UK, my learning process has changed a lot of things. When I started to be satisfied with myself, people also noticed me. Last year, two institutions nominated me for a national learning award. First, I was highly commended in the Festival of Learning 2018 awards. Secondly, I was given Student of the Year at the WEA’s Educational Impact Awards 2018.
On my journey to learn English, I once again discovered the link between language and life. When I was learning English, I started to recognise England, and I started to like this country when I recognised it. I no longer felt like an alien and started to have a sense of belonging. I earned again my self-confidence, self-esteem quickly and started to feel strong. I got a job teaching Turkish at Brasshouse Language School. Currently, I am teaching Turkish Language and Literature online and face to face, work as a language advisor to OFQUAL and an examiner at the International Baccalaureate and Pearson.
Tulay was highly commended in 2018 in the English Language Learning category. Our 2019 award winners will be announced in July.