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Course helping parents and teachers communicate

By Fiona West | September 29, 2022

A bespoke short course by Navitas Skilled Futures is helping migrant parents communicate more effectively with their children’s schools and teachers, while growing in confidence and independence.

The English for School Communication course has run every Friday for the past 10 weeks at Cabramatta College.

Approached by a local primary school to run the course, Cabramatta Academic Team Leader Grace Nabhan said Navitas Skilled Futures opened its doors to interested parents, with a qualified AMEP trainer, bilingual support, free onsite child care and classroom equipment, including Chromebooks.

“The school identified a need and contacted us,” Grace said.

“The idea was to teach parents all about how to engage effectively with their children’s school and teachers for better educational and social outcomes.”

“Things like, if you want to book an appointment at the school to talk to your teacher, how do you do it? When you go for a parent-teacher interview, what kinds of questions can you ask? If you get a note from school, what is required of you? How do you write an absence letter to your child’s teacher? How do you fill in the permission slip for an excursion? All these kinds of basic school communication skills that parents are required to have to participate in their child’s education.”

The class of 20 mostly Vietnamese and Chinese mothers and fathers said the course had been beneficial, explaining things to them that native English speakers or Australians familiar with the education system took for granted. It has also helped improve their overall language and literacy skills, through classroom exercises and conversation.

Tram Tran (pictured above), a mother-of-two from Vietnam, said she wanted to do the course for greater independence and to be able to understand more about school operations.

“It is so helpful for people like me,” she said.

“I have lived here only a short time and no one can help me. My daughter goes to school every day and sometimes I can’t understand. I don’t help my daughter. She has to do it all herself.

“Now I am more confident and I can help her, and myself.

“My children would like me to improve my English so when I go out by myself I can understand and do everything. They say, ‘Mum, we can’t be with you all the time.’

“This course has given me resources to understand and know what I can do.”

Thi Phuong Mai Le (picture above) has four children, aged 7-15. She has been in Australia four years and was nervous about talking to her children’s teachers.

“In this course I learned about something in school, like how can I communicate with my children’s teacher, how can I fill out a form,” she said.

“Also every day our teacher talks about something in the news, like the weather, COVID. It’s very helpful with general English.

“I am learning new things. I want to learn. I am very happy.”

Grace said many of the participants of this course were returning to Cabramatta College next term for an English Conversation class, aiming to improve their skills even further. The English for School Communication course would also be offered next year if there was a continued need in the community, she said.

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