What do we stand for at Birdsong English?
We have 2 big objectives at Birdsong English!
The first is to support you, as an autonomous learner, to learn English independently and break free of the negative attitudes you may have towards your own English level and studies.
We want to help you enjoy learning and encourage you to study and practise in ways that work for you, as an individual.
The second is to turn the industry of English-language teaching upside-down! We believe that English is a tool for access. Our job shouldn't be to make a profit from learners, it should be to reach as many people as possible in order to increase access to educational and employment opportunities through the use of a shared language. We're working on this behind the scenes!
Birdsong English is all about autonomous learning! We are not the sole provider of your English-language education. Where appropriate, we will always guide you to build your own ‘learning toolkit’ consisting of various resources for input, and strategies suited to you, as an individual. We are just one part of your toolkit!
You might have noticed that nowhere on our website, or on any social media does Birdsong English talk about nationality. You won’t find hashtags saying #NativeSpeaker or #BritishEnglish because in our view, those things are not relevant to our role, which is to support you in becoming a more confident communicator in English.
Birdsong English thinks that the English language teaching (ELT) industry is dominated by a very Western, colonial attitude which tries to exaggerate a connection between the English language, and the cultures of countries like Britain or the US. We want to disconnect the English language from these cultures and show it as the international, global language that it is, owned and shared by all those who speak it.
Birdsong English is anti-capitalist. Our goal is not profit. We want to increase global access to educational and employment opportunities so that everyone has a fairer chance to achieve their potential.
We’re also anti-testing! We know that to apply to many educational institutions or to work or live abroad, many English learners will need to pass certain tests to prove their English-language abilities. We don’t believe any of these tests are a good measure of your abilities and we want to see a world where language testing for access a) is only used where absolutely necessary and b) doesn’t exist to make a profit.
We also believe that the best educators are those who know their students! We support teachers working to improve English-language education in their own communities.
We don’t believe in accent reduction, accent-fixing, or the supremacy of one accent over another. Birdsong English views all accents as a valuable part of one’s identity. Our goal is to support you in communicating your message confidently, comfortably and effectively.
Language and culture, as well as accent in English, all form an integral part of one’s identity. Where possible, we encourage the exchange of languages and cultures and view a shared language such as English as a tool with which to connect with each other.
Everyone involved in Birdsong English gets equal say, and, if receiving an income from the business, equal pay. No one person’s opinion or work is valued more highly than another’s. We also believe that all decisions should be made by those who will be most affected by those decisions. That means that our learners are at the heart of any changes or developments to our activities.
It’s often said that one shouldn’t talk about politics or religion in the workplace. We disagree. As Desmond Tutu so eloquently put it “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” You will see Birdsong English using our platform to talk about issues that we feel are important.
Underlying that which we have already mentioned about ‘accent-reduction’, ‘native-speakerism’ and the tie between English as a language and British & US culture, is racism. We can’t change the industry unless we are anti-racist.
Birdsong English is powered by renewable energy, uses ethical banking, and is heading towards becoming a vegan organisation. We don’t believe that we can try to support those impacted by global inequality of access by indirectly contributing to and participating in systems which create or reinforce that inequality.
Last but not least, our classes are safe spaces for all those present. We welcome all identities and those present are expected to behave respectfully to anyone sharing that space. That means we are patient, respectful, supportive, and non-judgemental with our colleagues and classmates. Birdsong English classes are friendly, comfortable, honest and fun learning experiences for all present (including the teachers)!