Bridge with migrants and refugees | ELPNZ

Bridge with migrants and refugees

11 March 2017

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Jane Stearns and Ayako Imahashi play bridge at the Cambridge Bridge Club.

Cambridge bridge enthusiast Jane Stearns has embarked on a project to help people learn English - through playing cards. Stearns works as a volunteer for English Language Partners helping migrants and refugees learn English. Her idea to help people learn the language through the card game bridge, has the support of the Waikato-Bays Bridge Regional Committee.

Migrants may have limited English skills but that's not a barrier to playing cards. Some have played bridge in their own countries. Looking at the Cambridge Bridge Club, there would be a considerable drop in numbers should all the foreign-born members not play. One of the club's most valued members is Ayako Imahashi from Japan. She had played a little bridge with her family in Japan and was encouraged by the Migrant Centre in Leamington to attend lessons in Cambridge. It was a challenge she rose to and proved useful in terms of improving her grasp of English. It was also a vehicle to help with her integration to New Zealand.

Stearns is using Ayako's story to underpin the theme of a 48-page booklet she has produced. It is called Card Words and the cost of printing the first 50 copies will be covered by the Waikato-Bays Bridge Regional Committee. The booklet is aimed at introducing people with little English to bridge vocabulary and the structure of the game. The idea is to encourage those who do not have English as their first language, but played bridge in their home country, to take up the game and come to a club. While the purpose of the booklet is not to teach bridge, Steanrs aims to introduce participants to a medium for social interaction and, hopefully, to build up enough confidence and vocabulary to attend lessons at a bridge club nearby. Cambridge's bridge lessons are free and begin on March 21 at the Cambridge Bridge Club.