Every year, more than 400 migrants and refugees attend free English classes conducted by the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at Charles Darwin University (CDU).
For many, it is the first time on a university campus, and some find this in itself daunting.
Most have only recently arrived in Darwin, and are still adjusting to their new culture.
To help students feel welcome, AMEP staff has created a series of “learning walls” along the ground floor corridor of the CDU building.
NT Manager, Language and Literacy Division of VET at CDU, Lindee Conway said new students were sometimes unsure if they belonged at an institute of higher learning, particularly if it is at a university in a country that is “foreign” to them.
“New arrivals to Australia and Darwin can find photos of people just like them all along the corridor, which is both welcoming and reassuring,” Lindee said.
The learning walls show images of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds engaged in everyday activities.
They depict photos, illustrations, pictures from magazines and examples of grammar and language taught in class so students can see how they can apply what they have learned in class in the real-world.
Lindee said the learning walls were designed to help students assimilate into their new environment.
“I’ve seen students so hungry to learn they will even read brochures on staff salary packaging benefits.” She said the learning walls give them the opportunity to reinforce their existing knowledge through colourful and engaging visual images. “Every student learns differently, and many will consolidate the knowledge they have acquired in the classroom through studying information presented visually.”
The AMEP helps students to assimilate into their new environment by equipping them with applicable language skills. It is funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and students are from countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Congo, Burundi and Myanmar. Classes are held at CDU campuses in Casuarina, Palmerston and Alice Springs, as well as at Nhulunbuy, Katherine and Jabiru.