Claim­ing pre-paid English classes

Central Leader - - NEWS -

As part of her res­i­dency agree­ment, Yung Song was re­quired to pre-pur­chase English-lan­guage tuition through Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand.

Like a num­ber of such mi­grants how­ever, she did not im­me­di­ately claim her lessons, and al­though she missed the al­lot­ted time pe­riod of five years in which to sign up, she has been granted an ex­ten­sion.

She now meets reg­u­larly with a qual­i­fied English-lan­guage teacher through English Lan­guage Part­ners, one of the ap­proved providers of English for Mi­grants pro­grammes.

‘‘I like the flex­i­bil­ity of the classes,’’ Yung Song, who works from home says. The classes are one-on-one, which means they can take place at any time that suits the stu­dent and the teacher.

Yung Song’s teacher, Gail Ber­ry­smith, a qual­i­fied ESOL teacher with 16 years teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, comes to her home in the mid­dle of the day, while Yung Song is tak­ing a break from her work and be­fore her daugh­ter ar­rives home from school.

Mak­ing English-lan­guage lessons ac­ces­si­ble mat­ters to Gail. Most of­ten she meets her stu­dents in their own home, al­though she will also meet in a work­place or other sim­i­lar lo­ca­tion if the stu­dent prefers. ‘‘I once taught some­one in her own cafe,’’ she says. ‘‘I would come in dur­ing the quiet time, and we would meet at a ta­ble near the back.’’

Gail sees her job as more than just teach­ing English. ‘‘It is about help­ing peo­ple set­tle into a new coun­try and un­der­stand the Kiwi way of life with­out giv­ing up their own cul­ture or lan­guage. I reg­u­larly ask my stu­dents if they have any ques­tions,’’ she adds. ‘‘I’m al­ways try­ing to make it ap­pli­ca­ble.’’

Over the years Gail has helped her stu­dents with many lit­tle things that make a big dif­fer­ence, such as un­der­stand­ing school no­tices and re­ports, read­ing of­fi­cial mail and even com­pil­ing CVs.

‘‘I’ve had Korean, In­dian, Sri Lankan and Rus­sian stu­dents,’’ she says. ‘‘Of­ten, but not al­ways, they’re mothers at home. I try to teach each one what they need most to help them in their daily life. Be­ing oneto-one classes, I can plan the lessons at ex­actly each stu­dent’s level. It’s a con­fi­dence-build­ing thing. I want my stu­dents to feel com­fort­able

mak­ing mis­takes and know­ing they’re not be­ing judged. With Yung Song, I fo­cus a great deal on pro­nun­ci­a­tion and in­to­na­tion be­cause she knows a lot but her shy­ness with speak­ing holds her back.’’

‘‘I was ner­vous at first,’’ Yung Song adds, ‘‘but now it’s okay. I’ve learned pro­nun­ci­a­tion, speak­ing, lis­ten­ing, gram­mar and about New Zealand.’’

‘‘I think quite a bond de­vel­ops be­tween stu­dent and tu­tor,’’ Gail says. ‘‘I’ve caught up with many of my stu­dents af­ter the classes have fin­ished. Some call just to touch base.’’

At the mo­ment, Gail is teach­ing Yung Song four times a week be­cause this suits Yung Song’s plans. Usu­ally, how­ever, Gail teaches each stu­dent for two two-hour ses­sions per week. With some stu­dents she takes a break dur­ing the school hol­i­days so they can take care of their chil­dren.

Like English Lan­guage Part­ner’s other teach­ers, Gail tu­tors each stu­dent in 30 to 50 hour ‘‘bite­able bits’’, or con­tracts. Stu­dents can have as many con­tracts as the amount of money they have paid the govern­ment cov­ers. Mi­grants who ar­rived with very lit­tle English are likely to have pre-paid for more tuition than those who ar­rived with a higher level.

Once paid to Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand, the Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (TEC) holds the money for the stu­dents. Or­gan­i­sa­tions such as English Lan­guage Part­ners help stu­dents with the nec­es­sary pa­per­work to make use of their funds. Last year, English Lan­guage Part­ners pro­vided 134 English for Mi­grants con­tracts to stu­dents across New Zealand. They have 23 re­gional of­fices, in­clud­ing four across greater Auck­land, al­low­ing for staff to get to know each stu­dent’s needs and so as­sign him or her a suit­able teacher.

Once a stu­dent has re­ceived all the classes he or she is el­i­gi­ble for through the English for Mi­grants pro­gramme, there are other op­tions for con­tin­u­ing learn­ing.

English Lan­guage Part­ners also con­duct free Eng- lish for Em­ploy­ees classes tai­lored to the par­tic­u­lar needs of peo­ple in dif­fer­ent work­places, as well as twice weekly low cost com­mu­nity English-lan­guage classes.

English Lan­guage Part­ners pro­vide free one-toone home tu­tor­ing with vol­un­teer tu­tors for mi­grants or refugees in need of lessons who are un­able to go to classes or re­quire ex­tra sup­port.

Lan­guage help: Korean im­mi­grant Yung Song Kim re­ceiv­ing the English-lan­guage classes she paid for when she came to New Zealand. Pic­tured with her is her tu­tor Gail Ber­ry­smith from English Lan­guage Part­ners.

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