A group of people from diverse national backgrounds is benefiting from the support offered by TAFE NSW – Western Institute, Lithgow College with the program for English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL).
Their teacher, Kate Wallace, said that there has been an increase in the number of people who have joined the class this year, wanting to improve their English to help them settle into life in Australia.
“This group has students who have come to Australia from Japan, the Philippines, Brazil, Macedonia and China,” she said.
Ms Wallace said that the students have been in Australia for various periods of time, some for several years as well as newer arrivals including a mother and son who arrived in Lithgow from China just a week ago.
The ESOL course aims to help people develop the English skills they need in everyday life in Australia. This includes learning about Australian culture, and studying the written and oral English they will need for the activities they will be undertaking. The class also has regular excursions to learn about the Lithgow area.
During this year the students have learnt about Aboriginal culture, energy and the environment and at the moment they are learning practical skills through following written instructions. Some of the skills they have chosen are sushi making, knitting and belly dancing.
Ms Wallace also said that English language skills, and an understanding of Australian culture and environment are important for many aspects of daily living.
“Earlier in the year the group wrote out their regular shopping list and we talked about how they could reduce their impact on the environment by buying local produce.
“We then took the lists to the shops and compared prices and countries of origin, choosing local products where we could to substitute for items usually imported from overseas.”
These activities led to the establishment of a TAFE vegetable garden as the group learned about where their food comes from. The class has recently won the TAFE Environmental Incentive Award for their work.