Race tracks and bus tickets - responding to refugees | ELPNZ

Race tracks and bus tickets - responding to refugees

21 October 2016

Refugees are different than migrants: they may present well but we can never really know what is going on underneath. So we must dig a little deeper to find what support they really need.  

English Language Partners New Zealand takes great pride in being flexible and being able to respond to the grassroots needs of refugees. Our centres respond in different ways, depending on community needs. This includes increasing existing classes or creating new opportunities.

We must always remain organic in how we deliver our programmes. For us, teaching English is not just about teaching a new language - it's about removing the language barrier so new New Zealanders are able to live here safely and well.

Creating safe and supportive spaces

With just a few months to plan, English Language Partners Porirua had to plan for a large number of Syrian refugees that would be settling in the area - mainly family groups with a number of pre-school children. Their level of English would range from beginner to those with high levels of education.

Our Porirua centre created an extra English Language Group, four times a week, for beginners and elementary-level learners. These were funded by Wellington Community Trust and ANZ Staff Foundation. 

Also in response to the needs of these new refugees, the centre created an ESOL Intensive class where people could study for 20 hours a week. The class was a great success and some learners were accepted into the higher level (CEL L2) ESOL programme at Whitirea New Zealand.

The centre also created an extra ESOL Literacy class, for people with very low levels of literacy in their first language, with a free playgroup.

Porirua Centre Manager Jacqueline Wilton says it was important that these new refugees did not feel isolated and could quickly become part of a supportive group while they learn English.

“Of course they are learning English, but one of the most rewarding aspects is the interraction, happiness and confidence action they’ve begun to show.”

The Porirua centre welcomes new learners throughout the year.

Learn English at English Language Partners Porirua. 


A time of ‘firsts’ for Dunedin

This year Dunedin was made a refugee resettlement city and had an influx of Syrian refugees. The Dunedin centre expanded its services to cater for the specific needs of these refugees. They will have at least four new classes by December.

Refugees reside all over the city. Transport to and from classes has been an issue for learners. English Language Partners Dunedin centre manager Paul Naidu formed a transport group with several organisations to look into transport issues. They are now accessing a transport fund to assist refugees. Also, for the first time, they will be offering student cards so learners can receive discount bus fares.

Another first for the Dunedin centre is providing on-site childcare with their ESOL Literacy classes.

“Refugee learners often want their children physically close, especially when they first arrive.” says Paul. “So we’ve had to be very proactive. We can be proud that we can really cater for learner needs.

“We need to be organic, flexible and never say no.”

The Dunedin centre has employed more teachers and is also looking for expressions of interest for more.

Email Jane, our Human Resources Manager.   

Learn English at English Language Partners Dunedin. 


Taking at-risk Afghani women to the race track

Our Waikato centre in Hamilton is about to take enrolments for a pilot course aimed at single Afghani women – a road code education course.

The centre is partnering with the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust’s Refugee Driving programme. The course will use different techniques to get results including walking a make-shift roadway track with constructed road signs and markings. Participants may also get to try race carting around a racetrack – anything it takes for them to get the feel of what it’s like to be on the road.

Jo de Lisle is the centre manager at our Waikato centre in Hamilton and says many women in the Waikato Afghani community are not used to making the kinds of decisions needed to learn to drive.

“Some are on their own here as sole parents and are not used to making decisions in the New Zealand cultural context. But being able to drive is so important for their settlement.

 “Driving a car can be very scary for them. When you start to unpack the concepts involved in driving – like how far ahead they have to look ahead – it can be overwhelming.”

Jo says teaching English is a vehicle for successful settlement for refugees and migrants. “You can’t divorce teaching English from that, especially with high needs groups. What we’re really doing is helping people to manage their lives.”

Learn English at English Language Partners Waikato