Every Wednesday morning close to 100 new migrants and refugees from around Ryde find themselves at St Anne’s Anglican Church Ryde. It’s not to attend a service, but to learn English and make new friends.
Started more than 25 years ago, the English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes at St Anne’s now has more than 130 people enrolled and averages about 86 students per week.
According to the church’s ESL coordinator, Robyn Miller, the classes do more than just teach grammar and polite conversation.
“I believe it helps build a more harmonious community,” says Robyn. “We get the opportunity to show people who are new to this country, the systems we have in Australia and the broader Australian community.
“Not only do we teach grammar and help answer simple questions, the more advance students get to learn about current affairs and basic English phrases that assist in day to day living.”
For Akiko Hayashi, who moved to Macquarie Park from Japan two years ago, the classes have helped her in more ways than learning a new language.
“Our family decided to move to Australia for a better educational environment. Not only did we want our children to learn English, we wanted them to experience the diversity in Australia,” says Akiko.
“These classes are very useful and the people are kind. I am so thankful to everyone in the class. When I’ve missed a few classes, our teacher calls to ask how I am. Friends from the classes also contact me to ask how things are.
“I found “mates” very important here. They help me get out of the house and keep me persevering to understand the language and the country, even when I’m tired.”
Anglicare works in partnership with Churches to run nearly 100 classes in the Sydney Diocese which use ESL ministry as a part of their community outreach. The organisation equips and trains them to reach out to migrants and refugees with varying levels of English proficiency.
Volunteer, professional writers update and produce new resources each year. These resources are written specifically for teaching ESL in a Church context, and are being used in Australia and overseas. Anglicare also provides:
- two teacher training days a year
- ongoing support for all trainees
- ongoing support from Regional ESL Coordinators
- a well resourced ESL Library available to all teachers
- ESL resources written specifically to teach ESL in a Church context
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