Reflect ESOL

What is Reflect ESOL?

Reflect ESOL is a learner centred approach, which aims to address the power relationship between teacher and learners. It does this by providing a structure which lets the teacher step back and listen and for learners to be more open and have more say. A Reflect ESOL class is as diverse as  ESOL learners. It focuses  on the language, ideas and concerns expressed by the class community and encourages a space where genuine dialogue can take place.


Reflect tools provide a means to systematically record the points of a discussion and the language created (in whatever form) for deeper analysis. This can make the approach seem challenging for teachers who are used to pre-determined outcomes or target-based models. However each teacher can take the approach at a pace which is comfortable to them and to their ESOL learners.



From 2004, ActionAid has supported the use of the Reflect approach within United Kingdom English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) classes. ESOL classes are either provided by the state, charity and voluntary sectors and aim to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with English language and literacy skills to help them integrate and find work in the UK. After holding a number of introductory workshops Reflect ESOL published the first Reflect ESOL resource pack (PDF 615KB) in 2007.


Reflect ESOL 2007 to 2010

In 2007 ActionAid secured funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for a pilot and research project to examine the effectiveness of the approach in a UK ESOL setting. The project was evaluated by LLU+ South Bank University and looked at the extent Reflect:

  • supported language learning
  • facilitated independent learning skills
  • encouraged group dynamics and social interaction
  • facilitated discussion around community participation and citizenship.

The LLU+ evaluation report (PDF 694KB) demonstrated the effectiveness of Reflect ESOL and linked it with current key ESOL research, such as 'Speaking from Within', 'Turning Talk into Learning' (Cook and Roberts 2007 - Effective teaching and learning - ESOL - NRDC) and 'Responding to Peoples' Lives' Appleby and Barton, 2008 (Developing adult teaching and learning practitioner guides. NRDC & NIACE).


Reflect ESOL 2010-2012

In 2010 the Reflect ESOL project secured further funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Trust for London to continue providing training and dissemination, embark on further research and complete a new resource book.