Skills development to address social isolation – metropolitan area

Background

The Chinese speaking community is one of the fastest growing cultural groups in Australia. Many of the new arrivals have low levels of English proficiency and the Point Cook Community Learning Centre is aware of this issue in their community.

This project targeted Chinese seniors who have recently migrated to Australia and living in the area.

The project

This project aimed to help older Chinese people learn to speak English in a fun way, through singing. The participants found it easier to sing than to actually speak English, and singing gave them the courage to open their mouths to speak English.

The participants were motivated to learn as they understand speaking English is critical for them to live in Australia happily and independently of their children.

Successes

Approximately 25 attendees came to the classes every week and enjoyed singing in English.

Attending regularly led to becoming comfortable with each other and combined with lots of encouragement from the teacher their confidence grew and their ability to learn English improved.

Challenges

Based on feedback from participants, the content for the English conversation classes was scaled back. Instead of concentrating on sentence structure, the class now focused on simple pronunciation.

The teacher, a qualified English teacher from Shanghai, went back to the very basics - the alphabet and what sound to make for each and what sound to make in words.

What next?

The classes will continue with support from the Point Cook Chinese Friendship Association.