Heart and Parcel was founded in 2015 by Clare Courtney and Karolina Koścień with the aim of supporting people learning English in their local communities and “forging connections by developing English language and communication skills through the medium of food”. They run a variety of projects “which use food and cooking as a way for participants to gather together, connect and to share their past stories, experiences and lives with others, whilst practising and developing their English language skills”.
One of their most popular courses is “From Home to Home”, an online course which teaches English by giving a series of cooking classes. The “Main Class”, Cooking and English, is given every week, followed, two days later, by a “Post-class Discussion Class”, where students practice their English with other students and qualified teachers. “Extra Study” is provided by “Homework” (vocabulary and grammar exercises about the food and recipe from the main class) and a “WhatsApp Discussion Group” (share recipes, videos, photos of food and communicate in English with other students and qualified teachers).
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Additionally, Heart and Parcel run fundraising public food events such as supper clubs, markets, catering, and private workshops. They also publish a collaborative cookbook “working with participants to share recipes and stories from their communities, cultures and lives”.
And it doesn’t stop there. They explore “learning opportunities through food” by looking at budgeting, healthy meals, using food for social change, employability and community cohesion through communal eating. As Clare told me, “Most importantly, we have found that building connections and networking has been wholly beneficial for the learners, being exposed to different settings, contexts with us (our learners can volunteer with us to do catering events, market stall cookalongs, presentations) thus creating further opportunities to meet people who are more within their interests, line of work or study”. They are also committed to “learner progression through to paid positions in our project and the opportunity to teach and to develop the skills of newer learners who enter our programme.”
I won’t bother to say why I think this is such an inspirational project because I think it speaks for itself. It will be described and discussed in the forthcoming book on ELT by Mike Long and me, which I’ve mentioned a few times already. The best thing you can do is visit the website.
My thanks to Clare for taking the time to tell me about the thinking behind the project and how it’s developing.