IT CAN be difficult to navigate Australian life when you don't speak much English, let alone Year 11 and 12. But Bendigo's Karen students are forging ahead anyone.
Nine students gave science presentations this week, but with a difference.
The presentations were in both English and Karen, as part of Catherine McAuley College's English Language Assistance Program.
ELAP teacher Rod Kerr said the program was unique, taking an inquiry-based approach to teaching English as an additional language.
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It has been designed to bring students "up to steam" as quickly as possible to get them into mainstream classes, Mr Kerr said.
Instead of just testing English comprehension, the program requires them to be able to use the language.
Mr Kerr said building students' confidence was a key part of the program.
Hence the science presentations.
Mr Kerr said these were designed to get students out into the wider world of English use, and perhaps put them under a bit more pressure than they would be in a classroom context.
These real-world tasks built students' confidence with language, and to be able to speak in a variety of settings and ways.
Mr Kerr said it could be quite daunting for speakers of English as an additional language to speak publicly.
Some student had come into the program speaking no English at all, he said.
Teaching these young people English helped them to become part of Australia, and achieve their goals.
"It gives them access to Australia essentially, it gives them access to work, it gives them access to our social structures, it also means they can more easily become part of our community," Mr Kerr said.
"The Karen community is very active out there and they're very eager to assimilate and make a contribution, and these kids are no different.
"They all have a dream and a goal, and I guess what we're doing is helping them achieve that."
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