Rohingya Community English and Digital Literacy
The English language can be a challenge to learn. It’s especially difficult when someone’s native language doesn’t share borrowed words or similar grammatical patterns to those in the English language.
Springvale Neighbourhood House
Rohingya Community English and Digital Literacy
Classes Feb 2018 - Dec 2018
Established in 1983, Springvale Neighbourhood House Inc. is a not-for-profit, community-run house and registered training organisation, committed to community development, social inclusion, cultural connection and celebration. The House is home to 46 cultural and multicultural groups who meet on all days of the week, including weekends.
Without the basics, it’s tough to integrate into a new country - even tougher if you’re seeking asylum as many Rohingya currently are.
Amnesty International claims that the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, with Rohingya women and children particularly at risk.1
Drawing on its comprehensive experience, the Springvale Neighbourhood House designed and delivered English and digital literacy class specific to the Rohingya people, many who have had little to no formal education in their own language.
This best-practice education and training provider has been delivering services to people from a broad spectrum of cultural backgrounds for over 15 years. It celebrates the cultures of all students, and tailors the learning process and pace to meet their individual needs. More than just a training provider, the Springvale Neighbourhood House was constructed out of hand-made bricks quarried from clay in the local area through an unemployed youth project and serves as a ‘home away from home’ for all - regardless of language, citizenship, visa status or country of birth.
As English is a second language for many of our members, we jumped at the opportunity for our Community Program to support the English and Digital Literacy Classes offered by the Springvale Neighbourhood House.
The classes have opened the door to ordinary activities that many of us may take for granted - simple ones that can make a profound difference to a person’s quality of life. These include being able to speak to your child’s teacher, visiting a doctor or buying the weekly groceries. The classes have also helped pave the way for future employment for many of its participants.
Kobir - from surviving to thriving
Kobir, a refugee from Myanmar (Burma ), arrived in Australia in 2013. The journey to Australia via Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia was traumatic. He survived health problems and mental health difficulties. Because he had no formal education in his country, he is not literate in his own language. Despite this, he wanted to learn English for self-development. After enrolling in the learning program at Springvale Neighbourhood House, Kobir has made great progress in communicating with others. He is making a concerted effort to learn the English language and is always punctual.
Kobir said, “Learning to speak English was the first step and at the beginning it was stressful and confusing for me. But over the period, I have learned to speak confidently with the help of some of the conversation techniques introduced in the class. They are relevant to my immediate needs. I’m very happy to continue to learn at Springvale Neighbourhood House.”
Zahalaya - zest for life to reach goals
In her home country of Myanmar, Zahalaya was an enterprising woman who worked hard as a fishmonger.
Now in Australia, Zahalaya encourages women from her community to attend class each week, and is deeply invested in the progress of her friends and family members within this community.
When her confidence in speaking English advances even further, Zahalaya hopes to run a cleaning business with her husband, or perhaps work in child or aged care. With her zest for life and steely determination, these goals seem well within her reach.
Nay - continuing her learning journey
Nay is an unassuming young woman with a beautiful spirit and quiet determination. After arriving from Burma five years ago, she settled well into Australia with her husband and daughter.
Nay was one of the most enthusiastic and regular attendees of the Rohingya English class. When she first started attending, she was very shy, and reluctant to speak aloud, not wishing to draw attention to herself. After attending the classes, her new-found confidence and motivation to speak English more proficiently is an inspiration to other students. On many occasions, Nay has expressed her desire to improve her English communication skills to help her seek employment. As a first step, Nay has recently began volunteering at the Springvale Learning Centre. With her giving nature, and enthusiasm to learn, Nay is able to contribute a great deal to the Centre, while simultaneously gaining valuable employment skills.
In 2019, Nay enrolled in a Level I Certificate in Spoken and Written English and will be continuing her learning journey with Springvale Neighbourhood House.
Over the duration of our Community Program support, 38 people participated in the English and digital literacy classes, 27 women and 11 men.
Using the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) to assess reading, writing and speaking skills, the students doubled their score on the ACSF tests after participating in the classes – an outstanding outcome.
As a result of the project, one woman was able to gain employment as a childcare worker, largely due to her improved language skills.
Overall, the Rohingya community has become more involved and integrated with the local community and activities of the Springvale Neighbourhood house.
1Amnesty International, 2017, Amnesty International, Sydney, viewed 26 October 2018, https://www.amnesty.org.au/who-are-the-rohingya-refugees/