Study English in Australia for Free at Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)

After we settled in our new Brisbane home, the first thing I did was I went and enrolled in AMEP at Southbank TAFE.

Just two weeks ago, Maria – my first teacher at AMEP asked me to come to her class and share my experience of learning English and getting my first job in Australia, to her students.

Maria is a kind and thoughtful teacher. She has always cared for her students even after they left AMEP. She knew this would be a good chance for me to practise my speaking in public. It also would be good for her current students too.

We took a few photos in the class that day but I don’t have permission to use so I use this photo as an illustration.

I was grateful to accept her invitation. I went through the same ‘up and down’ feelings when I first came to Australia. So, I could share my stories with empathy.

As a Vietnamese speaker, I understand the challenges that Vietnamese people are facing with their pronunciation of English words. The class had four Vietnamese students so I started to talk about those challenges. What sounds were difficult for me and what did I do to improve my pronunciation.

I tried to use funny stories which made most people in the class laugh. Then, I told them about how I used to be afraid of talking to people on the phone and shared the way that I overcame this fear. Lastly, I talked about how I got my first job in Australia.

Usually, native English speakers talk very fast – including on the phone. So, if I couldn’t see the facial expressions of people, I could not understand the conversation as well as when I had a face-to-face conversation with people.

I got over this fear by starting to ring more people to ask them questions about the information that I wanted to find out. The more phone calls I made … the less fear I had. I think after about nearly 10 phone calls that fear disappeared.

Simple things like calling the library to ask about opening hours or about the English Club in the library. Or I called the bank to ask about how to open a bank account etc. I read the information on their websites before I rang them. As a result, it didn’t really matter if I could hear them or not. I just wanted to overcome my own fear.

For new arrivals, AMEP is a great way of studying English for Free. Depending on the visa that you hold, the course might be paid for by the Government.

I spent six months at AMEP and had a lovely time with my friends in this program while I was waiting for my Diploma class.

One of Maria’s students told me that she is afraid of making a conversation with people. She asked me if I had any advice for her.

I shared with her my stories of going to free English Clubs in churches or in the State libraries. When I first came here, I used to go to many English Clubs where I could meet and have conversations with people from different backgrounds.

So, I told her that this is a way she can meet more people and practise her English. Personally, I think this is a great way to benefit both young and older people. As young people can learn English from older people, conversely, the older people can meet more people and perhaps they would feel less lonely. Because most older people who I met in the English Clubs were living alone.

I got many questions from the students in Maria’s class. They were interested in my stories. Some people asked about my study at university, or my life here and in Vietnam before I migrated. The others asked about my family and my job, etc.

I told them the story of how I got my first job as a shop assistant and marketing coordinator. How nice my boss and my colleague are etc.

People laughed because they share the same feelings. When I told them I used to cry when I got so many rejections from my online applications. I cried when I realised that I had a lot to do to improve my English. Or I cried when I did not feel confident as I did when I was in Vietnam.

One of the ladies in the class had her first interview the day before, and she said “she really gets it” and she said thank you for sharing my stories.

After nearly three years in Australia, I now have a Diploma of Business, I have been in my first job for more than one year, and I have just finished my first year at the Queensland University of Technology.

I told them that If I were in Vietnam, I would also have to change and adapt to the new challenges that Covid-19 has brought to us since 2019. People in the class all agreed that sometimes it might be tough but we just have to put our chin up and move forward because we would do the same if we were in our home countries.

It was hard for me at the beginning of every step that I went through since we moved to Australia. However, it has been a fantastic journey for me so far.

I had a good experience and that was a happy day. I tried not to make myself a ‘prissy’ or a ‘boaster’ when I told my stories. I could be the person who says that “I am the humblest person”… but a humble person wouldn’t say that. Right? 😅