The Reading Agency

Reading Ahead with ESOL (2016-2019)

Project Objectives

The project aimed to encourage prisoners with English as a Second Language to read for pleasure, as a way of developing their language skills as well as their learner autonomy, knowledge and motivation. Specifically, the project:

  • Supported the use of The Reading Agency's 'Reading Ahead' challenge with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) prisoners in 18 prisons, with the potential for further scaling
  • Provided support and guidance for prison librarians and tutors so that they are better able to encourage prisoners with ESOL to read
  • Devised an ESOL-friendly introduction to using the prison library
  • Compiled an ESOL-friendly reading list to support Reading Ahead

Project Partner

The Reading Agency is a charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more. It runs several different reading programmes in partnerships with public libraries, schools, prisons, workplaces, publishers and the media. Its Reading Ahead programme has been run in 120 prisons across the country.

About the Project

The Reading Agency's work reached over 900 prisoners with English as a Second Language, with the potential to scale to a total of 120 institutions where the charity works. Recent evaluations of the Reading Ahead programme showed that short term changes include:

  • Increased confidence in reading ability
  • Increased enjoyment of reading
  • Improved reading skills

Participating prison staff felt better resourced to improve delivery and have greater confidence in working with prisoners with English as a Second Language.