Anyone who's tried to learn a foreign language will appreciate the value of individual time spent with a native speaker. And anyone who's suffered from hostility and trauma will benefit from the opportunity to express their feelings in a trusting relationship. But there is also a danger in setting up a 1:1 relationship which can become oppressive when one party enjoys greater security, power and privilege than the other and it can be difficult to extricate ourselves from a relationship in which we've allowed one person to become too dependent on the other.
In a group, people can find strength and solidarity through shared struggles, whether these are the horrors that refugees have been through or the struggle to learn English and make one's way in a new country, which they share with our 'settled' conversation clubbers. At the same time, among the diversity of interests and experiences afforded by a group, each member is offered a much wider range of choices and opportunities for different kinds and degrees of interaction (including the choice to be silent, which you don't really have in a 1:1 conversation).
Seeking or creating opportunities for participating in groups In our initial conversations, I'm hoping we can identify ways to encourage our partners to participate in existing groups like ESOL classes and Conversation Clubs. We can talk about the opportunities for, and barriers to, participating in these. I'm also interested in ways in which we can expand our 1:1 conversations to create opportunities for learning in groups and we can share our experiences of these in due course.