Articles and reviews


'Our Lives Press - inspiring through the experience of others' in Natecla News No 101 Summer 2013

ESOL teacher, Elaine Williamson, describes a visit to South Thames College by Our Lives Press, and includes reviews of three of the books by her Level 1 class. Click here for the full article.

'Challenging reading in ESOL: dominant practices and learner resistance' by Elaine Williamson in Language Issues 24.1, July 2013

A reflective account of a short project where ESOL students read Our Lives title Achieving against the Odds by Helene Ramazani. Students resisted attempts by the teacher to impose structured activities on the text and re-oriented the project towards a more learner-led approach.

The author suggests that extensive reading of authentic texts such as the Our Lives titles encourages the broader use of language including discussion and narrative skills, and increases learner motivation and confidence.

To buy this article or to subscribe to Language Issues, go to the NATECLA website.


Please send your reviews to Our Lives Press and we will be happy to publish them below.

Never Give Up by Kristy Krasniqi - review by Agnieszka Dachnowicz, South Thames College

I would like to tell you about this incredible book which I read a week ago. It's Never Give Up by Kristy Krasniqi. This is a story about a young woman, about how she was trafficked from Albania, to Italy, France, Belgium and London. Her life is like a horror. This young woman is very strong and determined to save her and her daughter's lives. She never gives up.

I really enjoyed this book because it describes real life. Sometimes I cried when I read this story, but I am happy that Kristy and her daughter are safe in the UK. This book showed me a different world. I could learn about a different culture. I will always remember that I should never give up. I would recommend this book because it is written in simple English that everybody can understand.

Never Give Up by Kristy Krasniqi - review by Catalina Carlescu, South Thames College

This book describes the life of a woman who was born in Albania in a very poor family. She was sold by her own

father and forced into prostitution for many years until she found a way to escape and started a normal life far away from home.

I enjoyed this book because through a real story I could see the courage of a young woman. I learned that for a good relationship with your parents, communication is very important, but I also learned that there will always be a light in the end of the tunnel. I recommend this book to anyone who feels hopeless, to show them that some people have got through worse situations and they can still smile.

Achieving against the Odds by Helene Ramazani - review by Sahra Ahmed

This book is about a woman called Helene who left Congo because her life was in danger. She came to England as a refugee. After struggling a while she ended up making a happy life.

I liked this book because although she was struggling, she built a good life with her family in the end. I would recommend this book. What I learned is how strong women can be and also never to give up, no matter what.

Finding the Unexpected by Babush Tesfay - review by Mohammed Khoubyar

Babush Tesfay was born in Eritrea, but he grew up in Ethiopia which was because the countries had war with each other for many years. He lived with his parents and brothers and sisters, but unfortunately in just a few years some of his family died.

He had terrible problems in his life as a young boy. He got married to a British woman and moved to England and then they had two children.

I enjoyed the book because with the simple words I could understand what was going on in his life, but usually I never read these kinds of books because I’ve seen and heard enough about world reality.

Never Give Up by Kristy Krasniqi - review by Emilia Kaminski

This is a story about a young woman and her terrifying life who was trafficked from Albania to Italy, France, Belgium then London. I enjoyed the book because it was a very interesting story. It was real life, so I believed it.

I learned that really we do not know the bad side of life. I think reading the book is a good way to learn English, so I would recommend it.

Obituary: Rashida Abedi, published in The Guardian 7 February 2017

Rashida Abedi, who died of cancer aged 65, handled her profound deafness with courage and her story, recorded in her autobiography From Sound to Silence (1988), inspired many others.

Rashida was born and grew up in Quetta, Pakistan, to where her father had retired after working for the Indian railways. She lost the hearing in her right ear after a severe attack of meningitis when she was 14. “I was advised by specialists to leave school,” she recalled. “All my hopes were destroyed. From then on my life was confined to the house. Most of the time was spent helping my mother, and I also used to knit, do embroidery and read books. We had a radio and my favourite hobby was listening to radio plays in Urdu.”

A marriage was arranged for Rashida, but after she lost the hearing in her left ear at 21, the engagement was broken off. “It was a cruel blow. I prayed to God I should die.” She recalled “agonising sadness and loneliness”. In 1981 Rashida’s brother, Syed, who had been long settled in London, brought her to the UK in the hope of finding a cure.

After it was confirmed that nothing could be done, she concentrated on making the most of new opportunities. I first got to know her in 1982 when she joined the English class I taught at South Norwood Adult Education Centre and made amazing progress despite never having heard the language. I thought it was a miracle. Soon she had progressed to an advanced class, was learning lip-reading and computing, and found things to interest her in the lives of friends from many different backgrounds.

Then, in 1983, a letter from the Home Office threatened deportation. A campaign to fight against it gathered strong support, including from the local MP, Bernard Weatherill, and went nationwide through the British Deaf Association. Rashida spoke movingly and fluently in both English and Urdu to a large public meeting in Croydon. She won her case and was once again “able to concentrate on the bright side of my life”. She said she had many things to look forward to and wrote her autobiography in the hope that others would find inspiration from her story to overcome similar problems and lead a full life.

After Syed’s death, Rashida shared a home with her sister Fatima and brother-in-law Kazim, and was very attached to the younger members of the family – she particularly loved children. She was a loving, optimistic person with a great sense of humour. She loved meeting new people and we travelled together to English language classes across Britain to publicise her book. She wrote: “This country has given me so much, I am glad to return something by giving others the confidence that they too can learn to speak good English and maybe even write a book themselves.”

She is survived by her sisters, Fatima and Yasmin, and brother, Akbar.