Adults engage in English language learning at Bridgewood

Parents and families from non-English speaking backgrounds are coming together every week and helping each other develop their English language skills.

The Adult Conversational English class at Bridgewood Integrated Child and Family Centre and Primary School, which has been in operation since 2018, provides weekly sessions in a flexible, relaxed, welcoming and encouraging environment. A volunteer English language teacher, who is a retired English primary and secondary school teacher, facilitates this class which allows the class to be offered at no cost to participants. 

The class is very flexible as no set curriculum must be taught or followed. Each session for the term is pre-planned however, the content within the sessions is influenced by the participant’s needs, interests, and requests.

This flexibility and free participation have led to the classes being well attended, with high levels of engagement from the community.  As the Adult Conversational English is held onsite at Bridgewood, it is already a familiar place for these parents and families. Another benefit of learning on site is that the participants can be introduced to referral pathways and additional supports offered onsite and that are positive for their learning and wellbeing.

Pre-school children are welcome to accompany their parents to the class, which also removes barriers for participation. The class also has a volunteer child minding assistant who helps keep the children entertained, so the parents can engage with the content as much as possible. Feedback from parents who have attended the class has been that this is an essential offering, as many would have been unable to participate due to concerns about who would look after their children.

The Adult Conversational English class is more than just an opportunity to learn English. Participants have developed friendships and have increased their confidence. They have also had the opportunity to be introduced to local services and build a connection with the whole Bridgewood site.

“I have come to the Adult English class since the start and love coming every week. Before coming to this class, I never went shopping alone or spoke to anyone in English because I thought people would understand me. Now because of this class, I have confidence. Since coming to Australia, I have dreamed of studying at TAFE but thought I would not be able to because of my English. Now I have the English skills I need and am looking to enrol in an Education Support course.” – Participant

Adult Engagement and Learning is one of the five evidenced-based Elements that are central to the Our Place approach.  Our Place supports opportunities for families to engage in volunteering, formal and informal learning, and link them into employment pathways.

In addition to increasing employment opportunities, participating in informal adult education such as the Bridgewood Adult Conversational English class also helps to:

  • Develop a sense of belonging and purpose that contributes to improved self-esteem, confidence and capability within many aspects of their lives.
  • Reduce community members’ isolation by enabling them to develop stronger social networks.
  • Encourage a good home learning environment that encourages children to have positive attitudes to learning and confidence and resilience at school.