This paper is a case study of a distance-learning program aimed at equipping non-English speaking adult immigrants in Australia with language skills. The program is known as the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and is founded on the premise that English is a foundational skill for participation in the economic and social development of Australia. This paper provides details about the informal program, including its target audience, contents, course schedule, motivation, resources, and the evaluation criterion used.
AMEP targets immigrants as a special population of non-English speaking adults in Australia. The program is open to participants of different genders, races, and nationalities (TAFE SA, 2022). Students enrolled in the program were required to have passports and a visa to stay in Australia. Those who met this criterion were free to register at the local office in Sydney but those who were outside of a 50-kilometer radius were automatically exempted from this provision (Community Plus Services Limited, 2022). Instead, they were advised to enroll in the distance-learning program.
Navitas, which is a global education service provider commissioned by the Australian government under the Department of Home Affairs, sponsored the above-mentioned adult training program. The organization has a history of providing support to charitable organizations that have an educational focus (Navitas, 2022). The firm’s vision is to be the leading global education service provider and its values are centered on having a conviction for this purpose, a drive for achieving collective milestones, and a demonstration of rigor for enhancing professional reputation and credibility (Navitas, 2022). These values are enshrined in its core purpose, which is to transform lives through education.
In a catalog or brochure, the AMEP program could be described as a foundational course for immigrants and refugees willing to learn English. From an experiential standpoint, it gives learners the flexibility to study the language at home and network with partners on the same platform (Navitas, 2022). The course includes two weeks of work placement where students study English in spoken and written forms (Community Plus Services Limited, 2022). Students who enroll in AMEP are automatically registered with the Certificates in Spoken and Written English (CSWE), which is an accredited course in Australia (Navitas, 2022). There are four main levels of certification – “Pre-Certification Level,” “Certificate 1,” “Certificate 2,” and “Certificate 3” (TAFE SA, 2022). In offline and online sessions, volunteer tutors are expected to spend between three or four hours a week with their students (Community Plus Services Limited, 2022). Similarly, students are allowed to undertake their studies in morning or evening sessions, whichever is suitable.
Operation and Schedule of Program
The AMEP program allows students to learn in different ways. The first one is classroom studies where students attend physical lessons in the school setting. The second format is done online where teaching occurs through distance learning (TAFE SA, 2022). These sessions have a teacher who interacts with learners through a volunteer tutor scheme whereby proficient English speakers volunteer to teach adult students in English proficiency. The language proficiency program is a free 200-hour course where students are expected to be motivated to attend four class sessions in a week (Community Plus Services Limited, 2022). In both online and offline study formats, students can learn full-time or part-time, depending on their schedules (Navitas, 2022). Upon completion of the program, students are expected to have learned language skills needed to secure employment in Australia.
Given that AMEP is delivered in online and offline modes, digital resources are central to the program’s success. This format includes provisions for enabling students to access the internet, digital library resources, and learning equipment (Community Plus Services Limited, 2022). At the same time, the offline mode is conducted in public libraries where students and teachers interact in focus groups. The course also offers bilingual support to immigrants who do not speak English as their first language.
An overview of the above-mentioned program shows that it is struggling with staffing challenges. Particularly, a shortfall in the number of volunteers and absenteeism in some class sessions emerged in a significant number of cases (TAFE SA, 2022). Additionally, it was difficult to ensure that students attended class sessions regularly because of work or family commitments. However, student materials were widely available to anyone who wished to access them. This is because they were available virtually and each student had access to a computer and an internet connection. Overall, the program shows promise in bridging the educational gap that immigrants experience when coming to new countries and it could act as a template for other organizations that have a similar goal to succeed in this endeavor (TAFE SA, 2022). The lesson learned from this evaluation is that a “give and take” between students and teachers has to happen if such educational programs are to succeed.
AMEP could be compared with a similar program developed by the Center for Immigrant Education and Training (CIET) in the US, which also strived to equip learners with English-speaking skills to secure employment in the US. However, the main difference between this program and AMEP is its scope. While the latter has a national appeal, the CIET program is statewide because it is only based in New York (LaGuardia Community College, 2022). Additionally, unlike the AMEP program, which exclusively focuses on adults, the CIET has an expansive scope of participants, including adult learners and their families (LaGuardia Community College, 2022). Differences in objectives also abound because, unlike AMEP, CIET not only strives to help immigrants get jobs through English-proficiency learning but also equip their families with the skills required to be good citizens (LaGuardia Community College, 2022). Therefore, the US model includes citizenship and work support, while AMEP is solely focused on work support. These differences provide the grounds for realizing varied program outcomes.
Community Plus Services Limited. (2022). The adult migrant English program. Web.
LaGuardia Community College. (2022). Center for immigrant education and training. Web.
Navitas. (2022). Vision and values. Web.
TAFE SA. (2022). Adult migrant English program. Web.