Conversational English in the hubs

“Learning can be really tricky. Create a learning environment people want to come to, make it supportive. Make it welcoming. And people will come.”

Dr Sonja Hood
CEO, Community Hubs Australia

Learning English can be life changing when you’re new to Australia. It gives you access to the community in ways otherwise impossible.

But for some refugee and migrant women, there are barriers to traditional English classes. Scheduling clashes, inconvenient locations and the formality of these courses are often-cited reasons for those women – who are busy raising children, caring for their families and working – to opt out of enrolling.

Conversational English, delivered through community hubs, are specifically designed with refugee and migrant women in mind. They’re accessible, supportive and inclusive – and above all, they’re effective. See for yourself.

The classes are made possible thanks to funding from the Australian Government in 2020. Because of this funding, refugee and migrant women all over the country are learning English that is helping them engage with the community. And, in many cases, move on to the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) for further learning. Sonja, CEO of Community Hubs Australia explains how the hubs model is engaging women in English classes.

The classes are making a huge impact in participants’ lives. Meet Finzia. She only knew how to say ‘thank you’ when she first came to Australia, but now she’s confident going out and shopping by herself, introducing herself to people, and engaging with the community.

Dinusha is an English facilitator at the hubs, and says the warm and inclusive environment – far removed from what one might expect from ‘lessons’ – makes all the difference in giving the women the best shot at learning English.

The schools hosting the lessons are benefiting, too. Matt, a principal of a school with a community hub, says the conversational English classes allow women to become more wholly part of life at school – they’ve even employed two of their participants.

The strength of conversational English comes down to the format. It’s relaxed, friendly and above all, convenient. For participant Dole, that’s meant she’s able to consistently learn – and with her new-found confidence is now progressing to AMEP.

The hubs English model is a proven, effective method of enabling refugee and migrant women to learn English. It opens up a range of opportunities, allowing its participants to engage fully with the community.

This is just the beginning. With more support, we can keep teaching English in the hubs, and welcoming refugee and migrant women into our communities.