Tutor Mary Connell, left, with Neighbourhood support co-ordinator Cathy Cameron. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

A programme combining free English classes with childcare is coming to Masterton.

WEconnect, a neighbourhood support initiative to help immigrants settle, has joined with Multicultural Learning and Support Services to bring the classes to the Wairarapa Community Centre in Perry St from next Saturday.

They will initially run for the nine weeks of term three, and will continue if there is demand, in anticipation of the refugees coming to Masterton in 2020.

The classes are available to all residents and citizens [and those with work visas valid for a maximum of three months within any one-year period] who want to improve their English for the purposes of living permanently in New Zealand.

The idea came after a survey conducted with WEconnect participants asking if there was a need for an English class, why they could not make it to classes, and when would be the best day and time to hold the classes.

The survey found that some people could not make community classes because of trouble with childcare.

Connections were made with MCLaSS who run language classes in Wellington.

WEconnect found there was a niche in Wairarapa for those who struggle with their English, specifically Kiwi English, and were more likely to segregate themselves because of their difficulty.

The classes are designed for both children and adults, so families can come together to improve their English.

Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Cathy Cameron said the classes were “mainly for refugees which Masterton is about to get a lot of”.

“Saturday was chosen for the classes as then the whole family could go together and providing free childcare was to remove boundaries for people to come.”

The aim is to bridge the gap with others in the community and create a greater support network.

Whether you need it for work, study, daily life, or need to learn Kiwi slang, the classes will aim to teach participants to improve their connections with the community.

Tutor Mary Connell has worked with MCLaSS for more than seven years teaching English.

“I find the people’s stories fascinating and enjoy supporting people when they come to New Zealand.”

For information about community support, to register for the English classes and WEconnect services email cathy@connectingcommunities.org.nz.

You can also register through MCLaSS by calling [04] 384-3693 or emailing office@mclass.org.nz.

Classes will be run on Saturdays at the Wairarapa Community Centre, 41 Perry St, from 1pm to 3.30pm, starting July 27.