RSE workers awarded English language certificates

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ELP is very proud to be in the media again, this time celebrating a collaboration between English Language Partners Hawke's Bay, Indonesian Community (KAMIBAY) and Bostock NZ Ltd. This partnership has meant 97 "Recognised Seasonal Employees (RSE)" workers now have a certificate in English language.

This article originally featured in Hawkes Bay Today, on Friday, 18 March 2022

English Language Partners Hawke's Bay centre manager Maureen Gillies says she was initially contacted by the president of Indonesian Community (KAMIBAY), Anna Widayanti, a couple of weeks before Christmas.

"She was looking for English Language options for 97 Indonesian workers in Hawke's Bay under the Registered Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme."

Maureen says time was of the essence with this programme as the learners had to complete the programme by the middle of February and only had Friday evenings and Saturday mornings when they were available.

"We had to organise the learners to be properly registered, meet with the team from Bostock NZ Ltd to find out what the language goals were for their employees, as well as find suitably qualified teachers who were free during the summer break.

"All of this before the Indonesian Community had funding approved to run the class.We all just put our heads down and did whatever we could to get this programme off the ground."

Maureen says it took about three weeks to get everything in place.

"Anna and I worked on this over the Christmas and New Year period – Anna helped ensure all 97 people completed the registration forms. Normally English Language Partners Hawke's Bay coordinates this, but with such a large group of people and everything shut over Christmas and the New Year we asked for help from their employer, Bostock NZ Ltd and Indonesian Community to coordinate things."

"Often with people who are learning another language, the challenge is the confidence to use what they know, and to overcome their fear of making mistakes. But mistakes are how we learn."

Two venues were provided on Bostock land for the workers' training, one of them an"impressive recreational space" on the premises of one of their accommodation venues, Maureen says.

Three "qualified and very experienced" teachers, Elizabeth McKerras, Christine Houghton and Linda McLean from English Language Partners Hawke's Bay, taught the workers.

Anna Widayanti, president of Indonesian Community (KAMIBAY).

The programme — five two-hour classes a week for four weeks — was funded by a Bostock fair trade initiative and gave the workers a Certificate in Building English Confidence.

"The goal set by Bostock was to help the learners to be confident to use English at work, as many of them can speak English, but for many different reasons find it difficult to speak English to native English speakers," Anna says.

Bostock NZ Ltd is Fair Trade registered and has a fund they put aside to specifically help the workers they employ, either directly, or the countries they come from. This programme was specifically designed for Indonesian RSE workers, many of whom had no prior formal English language learning experience.

"English Language Partners can help absolute beginners to advanced speakers of English.The goal for this programme was to build the confidence of this group of people to use more English in the workplace, as most of the learners had some English ability.

"Often with people who are learning another language, the challenge is the confidence to use what they know, and to overcome their fear of making mistakes. But mistakes are how we learn."

Although the focus of the course was on English speaking and listening, there was also some reading and writing involved.

"They also had some homework which was to practise what they had learnt with each other at home. The learners all live with other Indonesian workers, so using English when they can speak Indonesian was the goal."

That concrete change that people report after attending English classes is amazing to hear.

Maureen says after compiling reports for the five classes, which outline language outcomes for each learner and the results of a self-assessment they completed at the start and end of the course, all learners indicated that their ability and confidence to use English in the workplace has improved as a result of the class.

"We gather data from every learner about how their English has improved as a result of attending English classes, and I can see that everyone has been able to use English in a way they haven't before. The goal was confidence to speak, and I am confident all learners have had a boost to their English confidence.

"They have also been able to have a conversation on the phone with their boss in English, resolving work issues in English, improved oral communications with their boss and a noticeable improvement in their English listening skills. That concrete change that people report after attending English classes is amazing to hear.

"It's amazing to watch people's experience of life in New Zealand improve like that. Language is a powerful connector of people – but a lack of confidence to use it is also a huge barrier."

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