Free English classes help immigrants feel less isolated

English classes

Free English classes at a Christchurch church are helping people improve their language skills and fit in better.

The 100 international residents who have attended the classes say they feel “less isolated and disconnected from society”.

The English classes are held at the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church every Tuesday.

Jane Cong Ye organises the classes. They started in February.

The aim is to help people who are struggling to speak English, learn and practise with others in a similar position.

It provides a place for the students to feel safe and heard, she says.

“Lots of immigrants, they’ve been here for a long time but because of their English deficiency, they are isolated and disconnected from society.

“So their lives are very tough here. We just want to help.”

Many nationalities

People from more than 25 nationalities have attended the programme since it began.

Their reasons for wanting to improve their English skills vary.

One student, Merry Huang, is learning English so she can fit in better.

“I came for the reunion with my husband and my kids, and they have a very good understanding of New Zealand here and I need to too.”

Jose Donojo has attended every class so far. They have given him tools to better express himself he says.

“I always said I’m good but now I say I’m marvellous.”

Another student, Harvey Chen, says the classes have helped him grow his confidence.

“After coming here, I found my courage and am not afraid of making mistakes. That’s why I can speak more and more fluently.”

The classes

The two-hour classes are taught by experienced English teachers and volunteers from the church.

They have sorted the students into groups from beginners to advanced speakers.

This way, everyone has the opportunity to practise and be heard while not being overwhelmed.

The organisers believe the classes have made a meaningful improvement for the students. They are helping them feel more comfortable in their daily lives around the city, they say.


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News category: New Zealand.

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