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English Language students celebrate 75th anniversary of the AMEP in Australia

Wednesday, 25 October 2023

Students and teachers stepped back into history earlier this month, discovering the early days of English Language classes at the ‘Bonegilla Migrant Experience’.

The Bonegilla Migrant and Reception Centre is considered the birthplace of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), with AMEP celebrating its 75th anniversary in Australia this year. In acknowledgement of this significant milestone, students and teachers from Wodonga TAFE’s AMEP and English language classes were welcomed to the Bonegilla Migrant Experience, with a guided tour on Wednesday 11 October 2023.

Participants in Wodonga TAFE’s English Language programs were able to see first-hand some of the teaching aids used in the first English classes held at Bonegilla for migrants who came to Australia after the second World War.

Students and teachers also toured early classrooms used for teaching. A highlight of interest was the collection of ‘puppet mouths’ which were used to model the position of the mouth, teeth, and tongue when making specific phonetic sounds, as an aide to teaching English.  

Teaching the English language was just one of the responsibilities of the Reception Centre, to help newcomers get used to their new country and ‘Australian ways’. Australia was firmly monolingual at that point in its history and all newcomers were expected to learn English, with ‘no job, no pay’ a reality.

Albury Wodonga has a strong history of welcoming migrants into the local region and the English Language classes at Wodonga TAFE are continuing the tradition. Wodonga TAFE is very proud of its commitment to teaching the AMEP and has taught English Language classes to members of the local community since 2011. The program area continues to thrive, with 35 students currently enrolled.

Education Manager, Tony Hardham, said, “We’re proud to be able to build on the solid foundation of English language teaching in our local area – and happy to welcome new students to our courses after the decline brought about by the COVID lockdown and international border closures.”

“With high employment rates and many work opportunities in the local region, it’s great to see students gain skills in English that enable them to move quickly into the workforce”, said Tony. “We are currently working with local employers to allow their staff to continue learning English, as well as providing flexible class options with evening classes at our McKoy Street campus.”

AMEP is an Australian Government funded initiative.

AMES Australia holds the AMEP contract for the Goulburn Murray region. Wodonga TAFE, part of the AMES Australia consortium, delivers the AMEP program in Wodonga.

 

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