Free English classes assist drivers

Free English classes assist drivers

Migrants or refugees in Porirua can take a free English language class to help them sit their restricted drivers test.

Migrants or refugees in Porirua can take a free English language class to help them sit their restricted drivers test.

The Porirua centre of English Langauge Partners New Zealand launched the course, run by the Red Cross in term one of this year, with 12 students.

Manager Jacqueline Wilson said the course involved students not only learning relevant vocabulary and phrases, but being able to comprehend and pronounce them as well as reading and understanding signs.

“Examples of a simple phrase might be ‘At the intersection, turn left’. Simple things that people who have English as a mother language and have been around vehicles just know, but which need to be learnt in a second language.”

Wilson said the course was created in response to feedback from the Open Road Programme run by the Changemakers Refugee Forum that students were having trouble understanding the English used by instructors and examiners.

Its aim is to teach the relevant English to make it easier for students to take on board the driving practice, without trying to learn too many things in one go.

She said the course had received positive feedback. “With responses being that it helped with understanding and that communication between learner and instructor was somewhat more successful.

They teach students with videos from the national NZTA website, presentations using signs, paper-based activities. They move around or act out certain instructions or use big maps with matchbox cars to practice and develop the necessary knowledge.

English language teacher Jan Lopez said she has found the course very rewarding to teach.

“Getting a drivers licence is a huge step towards being able to integrate into New Zealand society. Without a drivers’ licence daily life is so much more challenging, especially for families struggling to move around in the community – get to class, take children to school or the doctor.”

She said in addition to the practical advantages, the sense of personal satisfaction the students felt when they finally passed their test was priceless.

“They have been through so much in getting here and now must adapt to New Zealand and being far from their homes. It’s wonderful to see their happiness and success. It’s one of the best aspects of my job.”

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Article by Rachel Moore

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Article by Rachel Moore

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