One of the many necessary hurdles that stand before newly settled migrants and refugees is learning the primary language spoken in their new home. Yet simultaneously, teaching English as a second language also presents itself as quite a challenge for those willing to help. Many volunteers grapple with the question, ‘how do you teach English to a beginner if you don’t share a common language’?
In partnership with Sanctuary Armidale, the Ezidi HEPPP team delivered a day-long workshop that aimed to help volunteers overcome this very hurdle. With over 30 participants attending the education building last Thursday, the interactive ‘Teaching English to Adult Ezidi Learners’ workshop was tailored for volunteers who teach English to adult Ezidi community members in and around the New England region.
With Armidale being one of the few regional settlement areas for Ezidi Refugees in Australia, the need for assistance when it comes to teaching English is paramount. Many community volunteers do not have EALD (English as an additional language or dialect) training and are working one-to-one with a learner.
Sanctuary Armidale kindly funded Adjunct Associate Professor Elizabeth Ellis to facilitate the workshop. Elizabeth explored key aspects of teaching English at low levels to speakers of other languages where there is no shared language with the teacher, and where the learner may, or may not have literacy in their other language(s), which is the case for many Ezidi adults. In addition, open discussions were had on what the challenges of teaching English through English may look like, and for a short moment the volunteers even became the learners by participating in a Spanish language lesson taught only in Spanish. In the end, while the volunteers were able to string simple sentences together in Spanish, the exercise proved to be a humble reminder of how daunting learning an additional language can be.
Over the next few months, the Ezidi HEPPP team plan on delivering similar interactive workshops aimed at building upon teaching skills and techniques of community volunteers.
If you are interested in participating in future workshops, or if you wish to volunteer with Ezidi English learners, please do not hesitate to contact the Ezidi HEPPP Project Coordinator, Harry Munday, on firstname.lastname@example.org.