Since New Zealand moved to lockdown at Level 4, things have changed dramatically in how we’re teaching English to adults from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
Nationally, English Language Partners stopped running classes at our usual venues from close of classes on Friday 20 March. Some centres around the country, including the Porirua centre, had already run through how to use Zoom as an online teaching/meeting platform, and they’d been working on ways to get learners online should New Zealand go into lockdown.
“As such, we contacted our Porirua learners over the weekend about the move to online classes from Monday 23 March,” says Jacqs.
Our teachers, cultural and language assistants, volunteers and administration team have done incredible work supporting learners to get onto different platforms.
“On Monday, some classes were online and by Tuesday, almost all our teaching was online in one form or other.”
Jacqs says that, since then, the centre has been rapidly adapting and developing their online skills and expertise.
“Our teachers, cultural and language assistants, volunteers and administration team have done incredible work supporting learners to get onto different platforms,” she says. “Teachers and classroom assistants worked out which platforms, or mix of platforms worked best for everyone involved in different courses.
“For our ‘Mums ‘n Tots’ class and the lowest-level preliterate and beginner classes, Facebook has meant teachers can share pre-recorded teaching videos and learners can follow the reading and pronunciation activities at a time that suits best around childcare.”
“This also works well for a teacher who has primary-aged children at home, which is great.”
Teaching instructions have been put on Facebook in the learners’ language to assist understanding. Pictures of worksheets are being shared with learners who copy, complete and take photos of their completed work, before sending these back to the teacher via WhatsApp. “Class conversations are also happening via Messenger,” Jacqs adds.
For the higher-level and full-time classes, Zoom has been the standard. Teachers have adapted their materials with ease, learners have jumped on board, break out rooms are utilised for group work and the online whiteboard is available for teachers to share their work.
Jacqs says enrolments are rising. “Our ‘Kiwiana’ holiday class Zoom room wasn’t big enough to accommodate the numbers wanting holiday classes, so we had to add another.”
It’s been such a huge time of change, yet the need for connection has enabled English Language Partners to continue to work with our learning communities, teaching English and ensuring they have the connection and support they need.