Volunteers urgently needed
FOR many people in the Lockyer Valley, speaking English is something that can enable them to have a better life, a skill many of us take for granted.
“A lot of people wouldn't know what goes on there,” English teaching volunteer Margaret Hennessy said.
She said a lot of families are moving out to the Lockyer Valley from metropolitan areas such as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne because they hear about other people from their country and the work available in the region.
“There is generally a lot more work available in the first term and in the second term they tend to focus more on learning English,” Mrs Hennessy said.
A few students at 12 William Street are currently finishing up their course before Easter and going to work the fields of the Lockyer Valley, but extra language skills have already helped them on their way.
Others like Mohamed from Sudan have been learning English at the centre for about a year, and he is ready to undertake his citizenship test.
Jamila and Gowharshah arrived from Afghanistan and have been in Australia for a few years with friends and will continue to study after the Easter break.
They are planning to work and are learning English to better their chances of job opportunities.
But it is not just teaching the language, it is also about learning the different ways of life in Australia including basics like using a phonebook, knowing how to tell the time, reading a map or making telephone calls.
Teacher Heather Drew said there are many different levels of teaching students and volunteers are needed to assist teachers.
“We take students to the library, post office, supermarket and show them other things people take for granted,” she said.
“We have preliminary groups, advanced groups and we need local training to deal with different learning abilities.
“Extras are needed to do one-on-one classes and support us, because some of us visit more than once a week.
“Many students have never been to school so we have to do the full alphabet and sounds with them.”
She added that volunteer teachers have an important role as a link between the students and community.
“We encourage any volunteers who have a reasonable standard of written and spoken English to come along,” she said.
Students and teachers congregate at 12 William Street three days a week for classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 2.45pm.
For more information on volunteering contact (07) 4694 1684.