CONVERSATIONS IN WYNDHAM

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By Marie Germon

Wyndham is now home to many people who are from diverse cultural backgrounds and so the region’s council operate a volunteer tutoring program aimed to help those in the community where English is a second language.   

The program assists migrants integrate into the community by providing the opportunity to attend lessons located at surrounding community centres. Sessions are facilitated by community volunteers who have a strong interest for community development and share a passion for community spirit.

The program was first developed two years ago to cater for the region’s growing multi-cultural population, all volunteers are recruited by council and it’s participants from the community. The idea behind it is to help those learning the English language build their confidence and skill in everyday conversation so classes are informal and casual.

Tutors cater for participants whose proficiency in English vary so often lesson structure will work off the introductory, intermediate or advanced levels of the students, depending on the their learning needs and interests.

Many of the volunteer tutors are not English teaching professionals and so lessons are not certified or official. Sessions are designed to give those looking to improve their English skills the opportunity to attend a relaxed and friendly learning environment.

Participants such as Angela, who has lived in Australia for the past five years and has a daughter in Year 9 at Thomas Carr Secondary College, says the program has helped generally improve her conversational skills and assisted her to keep in touch with her teenage daughter.

Similarly, fellow program participant Manisha, who migrated to Australia from India with her family back in 2007, said the program was helping her keep up with her two children aged 11 and 4, and is generally improving not only her understanding of the English language but also her speaking and conversational skills. She is now looking to join the work force in Australia.

“Now with my second child almost ready to begin school I have the time to start thinking about the type of work I would like to do, and that’s why I come to the sessions. So I can prepare myself to begin work here,” she said.

The program provides volunteers and participants a way of socially connecting with each other and also assists community networks by way of community communication and connection. With the municipality’s population set to reach 385,000 by 2035, a program such as this may well go a long way to assist with not only community development but also continue to cultivate a positive sense of community within the region.

The program is looking for more volunteers and new participants are always welcome.

For those seeking further information on the program Wyndham City Council worker and program co-ordinator Rheanna Christodoulou can be contacted via email: Rheanna.christodoulou@wyndham.vic..gov.au or PH: 8734 5488 ext: 2256.

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