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Making Friends Through Language Classes

May 9, 2013


Essam Girgis enjoying the slower pace of life in Hawke’s Bay.

For Egyptian-born Essam Girgis, studying English language at EIT was also the means for meeting and socialising with others making a life in a new country.Essam’s English was pretty average when he and his family moved to Napier in 2004 – about 5.5 out of 10, he says.  But like most youngsters, sons Fady and Philip – now aged 19 and 15 – quickly settled in at school.

Essam had his job running the dye house at Design Spun in Onekawa, but with a limited vocabulary he wasn’t finding it easy to make friends.   So after reading about a community English course in a local paper, he decided to enrol at EIT.

There were 10 students in his class – and all were from different countries.  “It was challenging for all of us,” he recalls.

Sharing his enthusiasm for football with classmates, Essam soon found himself drafted into a team to play his favourite game.

He feels EIT’s community courses are important not just for those wanting to improve their language skills but also in providing opportunities to socialise with other immigrants.

English is used in daily activities such as shopping, visiting the doctor, supporting children at school, filling out forms, banking and using the phone, and Level 2 students can improve their English skills for employment.

After two years of study, Essam now rates his English at 6.5 to 7, and he says that if he isn’t too busy he will definitely be joining one of the English courses for migrants starting at EIT this month.

Government funding for the English for Living classes has been restored, and they are free to permanent residents.  Otherwise, the cost is $150 for a 10-week course and $135 for a nine-week course in Term 4.

“We will not stop learning,” Essam says of his family members.  Fady is now studying law and commerce at Victoria University while Philip, in Year 10 at Napier Boys’ High School, is aiming to be an engineer.

“We have our kiwi passports,” says Essam, “so yes, we feel like New Zealanders.  Here, it’s a small population.  There is not too much traffic and it’s quiet.  It is also a safe country.”

Level 1 English for Living classes will run from 10am to 12pm on Wednesdays.  Course dates are 8 May-10 July, 24 July-25 September and 16 October-11 December.

Evening classes are mixed (Levels 1 and 2), and will run from 6pm to 8pm on Thursdays.  The course dates are 9 May-11 July, 25 July-26 September and 17 October-12 December.

The location for both is on the third floor in EIT’s Hetley Building (A Block).

Contact Vicki Fox, ph (06) 974 8000 x 6072, email vfox@eit.ac.nz or Coral Scott, ph (06) 974 8000 x 5108, email cscott@eit.ac.nz