Free English classes for female, male & trans escorts, working girls, dancers, adult service providers and all workers in the sex industry
Weekly classes on Wednesday’s 11am – 12.30pm
Dean St, Soho – Central London
New students welcome to join
Contact Ava Caradonna for more information :
telephone: 079 1470 3372
- safe and confidential space
- weekly classes held in Soho
- learn to communicate better at work and with clients
- beginners and intermediate levels
- certificate upon completion
x:talk is organised by and for workers in the sex industry.
x:talk is independent from government authorities.
x:talk is funded by donations and fundraiser events.
x:talk teachers have experience working in the sex industry.
x:talk works with people of all genders who, by choice, circumstance, or coercion, engage in sexual activities for money, food, shelter, clothing, drugs, or other survival needs.
As workers in the sex industry we are often denied a voice, we are considered only passive victims, we are taught to be ashamed of our work, we are made invisible by discriminatory laws that illegalise our work and us, and we are spoken for and about but rarely are we allowed to speak for ourselves. As migrants even more so. Sometimes our voices are not heard even amongst each other because we don’t speak the same languages.
The x:talk project is a sex worker-led workers co-operative which approaches language teaching as knowledge sharing between equals and regards the ability to communicate as a fundamental tool for sex workers to work in safer conditions, to organise and to socialise with each other.
We understand language to be a politically and socially charged instrument of power, which we aim to teach critically and thoughtfully according to the specificity of our classes. Our English classes are organised to create a space where sex work as work can be openly talked about and does not have to be concealed or hidden. Through providing such a space we aim to challenge the stigma and isolation attached to our profession while at the same time we guarantee confidentiality and respect for those involved.
In addition to providing free English classes to migrant sex workers, we support critical interventions around issues of migration, race, gender, sexuality and labour, we participate in feminist and anti-racist campaigns and we are active in the struggle for the rights of sex workers in London, the UK and globally.
We consider confidentiality to be crucial for everyone involved in the x:talk project – including for students, teachers, teaching assistants and allies. We understand confidentiality to mean not only that all personal information about people involved in the project remains private but also that information is on a need to know basis. If students feel in a position to share personal information we welcome the exchange – however no one in the classes should ever be required to answer questions about who they are or what they do. As is usual in the sex industry – students are welcome to use their working names if necessary.
Our project comes from our experiences as workers in the sex industry. x:talk is sex worker-led not because we think that being a ‘sex worker’ is a fixed identity, but because those who have experienced the material conditions of the sex industry are in the best position to know how to change it. We do not wish to participate in a politics that creates individual ‘celebrity’ superstars. As a result we use the collective identity of Ava Caradonna (which roughly translates to ‘Eve the Good Woman’).
Ava Caradonna is a migrant, a sex worker, a student, a mother, a citizen, a transgender, a person of colour, a teacher, a lesbian and a militant- she allows us to speak from different positions as sex workers and as allies, without the stigma of using our ‘real’ names and allows us to speak to the different realities in the sex industry and beyond.
Respect for a diversity of experiences:
We are interested in organizing to radically transform the sex industry so that sex workers have more control over their lives and work. We are not interested in passing judgement on what type of work people do. We recognize that many women, men and trans people have a diverse range of experiences in the sex industry – good, bad and ugly. Our project is open to people who sells sex or sexual services – including workers in brothels, escort agencies, outdoors, flats, independents, bars, on the phone or internet, strippers, dancers, models, porn stars and glamour models. We respect people’s choices or circumstances about continuing to work in the sex industry or exiting the industry.
Combating the desire the help and save sex workers:
x:talk was born in a brothel in south London. The project grew out of the experiences of a prostitute called Ava who was working in a flat with many women from Thailand. They had paid £20,000 to come to the UK to work, they did not have their passports and they earned less money than Alice who was considered to be ‘European’. One reason they did not earn as much money as Alice was because they couldn’t negotiate with English speaking clients very easily. When Alice asked the women how she could help them – they expressed very clearly they did not want to be ‘helped’ but instead that they wanted to learn English. So began the first x:talk classes – in between clients and during the long hours of waiting. It was clear to Alice that we need to be able to speak together to be able to organise at work. x:talk is not about helping people, but about collective action and solidarity.
In order to gain the trust of the people we are working with and teaching we need to be clear about what the x:talk project can and cannot do – we teach English and offer a space for peer-to-peer networking, translation and information sharing. We are not lawyers, social workers, immigration agents or charity workers.
The Politics of Language
The content of the x:talk classes, the examples, language and words used are chosen with an understanding of the following:
- Language is a powerful tool in shaping the meaning of the way things are in the world.
- Language is a tool used to communicate, empower and also to oppress.
- If it matters what we say and how we say it, then it matters how we teach it.
The x:talk teachers
Suzanna is currently co-teaching the Marble Arch classes with Heidi. She is a sex worker, writer, activist and performer. A GMB IUSW and TUC member, a parent governor and single parent of teenagers. Suzanna has done a lot of work with parenting classes, breastfeeding activism and working with families in crisis. She is a ex-TEFL and GCSE teacher who identifies as trans and working class. She is a Londoner by birth, a sometime ‘radical unschooler’ who campaigns for educational reform and to improve LGBT training in schools, and who is currently training in Gestalt counselling and also about to begin an MA at Birkbeck in Gender, Sexuality and Culture. Suzanna is familiar with the London sex industry and has been active in sex workers rights activism for many years.
Heidi teaches the Breakfast Club class in Edgware Road together with Suzanna. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Education in 2001, and has recently completed her PhD in Anthropology and Media at the University of London. She has 12 years of teaching experience in English as a Second Language (ESL), English as a Foreign Language (EFL), and private tutoring. She has taught in the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, India, Japan and Cambodia. Heidi is familiar with the sex industries in London, New York, San Francisco and Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and she has been involved in research and sex worker rights activism for the past seven years.
Ali taught the classes in Finsbury Park. Ali started teaching EFL after qualifying with an accredited TEFL Certificate in 1998. She has over 6 years EFL teaching experience in South East Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Burma. She also has extensive experience teaching adult ESOL and Literacy in the UK to refugees, asylum seekers and adult and young offenders within the prison system, as well as private EFL tutoring. She has a BSc (Hons) degree in Social Science. She has experience in the sex industry in London and Tokyo. She has been involved in activism for a number of years, campaigning for refugee/assylum seeker rights, gay and lesbian issues, feminist issues and more recently, sex workers rights. She is currently teaching ESP (English for Special Purposes) and studying holistic therapies.
PG was the lead teacher of the x:talk pilot course in 2007. She qualified in English language teaching to adults in August2007 after she completed the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). She has over seven years experience of private tutoring and translation in a number of languages including Spanish, Italian and German. P.G. has had sex work experience in London and has been active in sex workers rights and in feminist, migrant rights and queer politics for many years. She has remained throughout committed to and involved in x:talk and is now completing her PhD in Politics at the Open University.