The LEXIS department at Derby College offers a one-year programme for second language English learners aged 16 - 18 years.
The programme draws students from across the world - some 23 different nationalities at present - and aims to equip them with the English language skills they need to gain access to Further Education and employment. Last year the Lexis learners wrote stories about their experience of their journeys to England. These were then illustrated by the College’s art students and published in a book, ‘My Journey to English – the Key to Opportunity’, which was launched at Derby Book Festival. Following the success of the project this year’s learners are writing stories about memories of their home country. Once again, a book of the stories will be produced and launched at the Festival.
"To be given the wonderful opportunity to be a part of Derby Book Festival and write for an audience – other than the teacher or the examiner – is rare and truly motivating for the students. Our students benefit from the experience by being a part of the creative conception, working through the critical development phase and being supported in a published author workshop and by sessions with their English tutors. This will be further enhanced by working alongside fellow students from Derby College Art department who have been tasked with illustrating their stories. The experience will not only expand their knowledge and skills, but also extend
This year Derby Book Festival has been working with two groups of children from the local Roma communities. Pupils from Bemrose School have been writing stories around the idea of exploring other cultures and faraway places. These will be illustrated and published in a book to be launched at the Festival. Another group of pupils from Pear Tree Community Junior School is developing a short performance based around a children’s story written by Richard O’Neill, a nationally recognised Roma author and storyteller, who has been working with both groups since the beginning of the year.
Richard uses the strong oral storytelling tradition of the Romany people to help young people develop their potential and, most importantly, to use the idea of storytelling as a springboard into writing. Having the opportunity to work with a writer from their community, and to see their culture and life experiences reflected and celebrated at such an important Festival, is a huge step forward, culturally and personally.
"This year, our school was given the superb opportunity of being involved with Derby Book Festival. Not only have we been enthused and motivated, but also inspired by the work. We look forward to sharing our work at the Festival and are confident the whole experience will leave us not only with everlasting memories, but also an incredible sense of pride."
Derby Book Festival volunteers have been running reading sessions with residents in the Parklands View Extra Care housing complex. Residents gather in one of the sitting rooms for an hour and a half each week to listen to the volunteers reading poetry and short stories. Research is increasingly identifying the quality of life benefits of ‘bibliotherapy’, including increased confidence and social and mental well-being. Shared Reading group members find the group calming, relaxing and therapeutic.