Taking steps

Noosa Library Services in Queensland marked Adult Learners Week by developing and sharing stories of the adults whose lives have been transformed by learning and took out a best event prize in 2022.

Helga, 82, showed it’s never too late to start learning. She came to Australia 20 years ago from East Germany to join her family but speaks mainly German with friends and relatives. Three years ago, she decided to do something about improving her spoken English and joined a conversation class at the library where she is thriving.

Emily wanted to improve her maths and writing skills and has been taking a Back-to-Basics class at her library for six months and highly recommends it. ‘The classes were interesting … and our teacher has been wonderful, with challenging classes and homework.’

Saleap from Cambodia started adult literacy classes in 2017 because she wanted to improve her knowledge of English and feel part of the community but initially it wasn’t easy. ‘When I arrived for the first time I felt very nervous.’ Saleap proudly shared a photo of herself at her Australian citizenship ceremony.

Kath Rose, Literacy Coordinator at Noosa Library Services, said of the learners, ‘They are very proud of putting themselves out there. They are proud of the courses and speak of their good fortune in being able to do them. They are keen to spread the word.’

Volunteer adult literacy tutor Kym, who took up the role after a late-in-life redundancy, and whose classes are often filled with ‘raucous laughter’ described the joys of her job. ‘I love the wealth of information adult learners have, sharing laughs, frustrations, and the joy of the “Aha moment” when something a learner has struggled with for years falls into place. And I never stop learning.’

The shared stories prompted interest from potential learners and volunteers. ‘We were very pleased with the response,’ said Kath. ‘It’s all about rebuilding after the Covid lockdowns.’

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