Making a positive impact


Luwen joined classes at Reynard Street Neighbourhood House (RSNH) in March this year, after moving to Melbourne from her home city of Zhangzhou, Fujian province, China. Luwen’s first language is Minnan. She also speaks Mandarin and is now making significant progress with her English. Luwen found RSNH searching for English classes for migrants using a Chinese app called ‘Little Red Book’.

At RSNH, Luwen has participated in the Reading and Writing class, the Beginner class and the Conversation class. Wanting her take her English to the next level, Luwen decided to join the Intermediate class as well. Although a little out of her comfort zone and studying with learners with a higher level than her, Luwen has thrived. This demonstrates the kind of learner that Luwen is: Luwen is not afraid of making mistakes, she values having a go, and is highly creative, earnest and hardworking. She also brings a very positive attitude and a big smile to class. She connects with other learners on a social level with ease, bringing her sense of humour, generosity, warmth and friendliness to our classes together.

Luwen takes every opportunity to learn English: aside from classes at RSNH, she studies English at a local church once a week, attends the pronunciation program at Darebin Intercultural Centre, and has recently joined an English program with AMES. Alongside Luwen’s creative pursuits and her passion for teaching dance, English has become her central focus, and it’s wonderful to see her language skills improve so much in such a short time and to see her become increasingly confident and skilled with her English.

In practical terms, coming to classes give Luwen the skills in English she needs to establish a life in Melbourne. English is such a vital element in the process of settlement here, and her hard work in class has started to open doors. From the very beginning, Luwen has been a very active participant in classes, however she is now expressing herself more clearly and engaging with others more effortlessly.

Luwen is a dance teacher, and in China she taught jazz, hiphop and k-pop, primarily working with children. Recently Luwen has started teaching children here in Mandarin. This term she is working on all of the different language elements. She needs to complete an Expression of Interest form and to plan and teach dance classes in English in term 4 at RSNH. Teaching dance in English will be an important step for Luwen. RSNH has a number of children’s programs at RSNH but no dance classes, so Luwen’s dance classes will make a very welcome addition to the program!

The relationships and connections amongst learners that form in class, and that Luwen plays such an active role in nurturing, have had a positive impact in Luwen’s life. Migration for almost everyone is challenging, and for Luwen moving from Zhangzhou to Melbourne meant moving away from her 11 year-old daughter to live with her husband and his son here. Studying at RSNH has enabled Luwen to connect with others who have parallel experiences of leaving their home countries and to make friends in class.

In the immediate future, Luwen will continue her English at RSNH and elsewhere in Melbourne, establishing her language skills needed for her other aspirations. Luwen is highly creative and plans to study Interior Design at TAFE in 2024, once she has Permanent Residency.

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