Being at home becomes part of the learning experience for migrant and refugee students
With students having to learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, TasTAFE teachers have risen to the challenge and are finding innovative and flexible ways to keep students engaged online.
One of them is David Sturdy, who has cleverly incorporated students’ home environment into his teaching for his English as an Additional Language (EAL) classes.
David teaches migrant and refugee students who come from a number of countries including Nepal, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Syria and China. Like all of TasTAFE’s EAL classes, David’s focus on teaching students language in a way that helps them understand not just the words, but gives them practical skills useful in adapting to life in a new country.
Before COVID-19, his students were learning about how to navigate different cultural aspects of living in Australia. One part of the course involved reading rental ads on real-estate websites. With students at home, David continued the theme, and asked students to do video tours of their home, starting outside and going through the house while describing the rooms in English. It was a great opportunity for students to practise their English in a fun and interesting way.
David runs a video class for students each weekday and tries to make learning as flexible as possible. He uses a range of technology including Zoom, What’s App and You Tube and also posts out physical resources for students who prefer hard-copies so that students can learn in a way that suits them best.
“We’ve had to learn to engage with students in new ways. If you’d told me three months ago that I’d be doing what I’m doing now I wouldn’t have believed it. Technology and the language barrier have made it challenging at times but it’s also been really exciting and rewarding. We’ve overcome the hurdles together and students have really embraced the online environment. It’s been great to see a really high rate of up-take from students for online learning.
David said other EAL teachers in his team and across the state are doing similar things with their students and doing a great job.