A three-year trial of virtual English language tuition using the National Broadband Network (NBN) will help new migrants settle into regional communities, the Australian Government announced earlier this month.
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the $5.1 million trial would initially involve up to 200 new migrants and would complement the Australian
Government’s existing Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).
The trial will take advantage of early NBN deployments to deliver online English language tuition, including virtual classes, to eligible migrants and humanitarian entrants, especially those in regional areas, for whom access to e-learning may not otherwise be a viable option.
Mr Bowen said the new initiative would enhance the capacity for e-learning and would progressively be made available to people from 2012 under the AMEP’s new business model, in line with the rollout of the NBN.
“The AMEP reflects this Government’s commitment to long-term sustainable settlement outcomes for newly arrived migrants through integrated, targeted and well designed programs that support them in their transition to life in Australia,” Mr Bowen said.
“Gaining English language proficiency is crucial to successfully settling in Australia. This trial will deliver improved resources consistent with the AMEP distance learning and advanced learning options that facilitate real time video-based teacher/client interaction, leading to improvements in speech and pronunciation.”
Senator Conroy said the faster network speed and reliability of the NBN was expected to attract a larger client base for online learning and increase AMEP reach and retention.
“We expect the trial to enhance the delivery of the AMEP, with improved language outcomes enabling migrants in widely dispersed locations to better engage with and contribute to Australian society,” Senator Conroy said.
“While all AMEP users with NBN access would be able to participate in the trial, there would be significant benefits for those clients in regional areas, as well as those who may have difficulty attending classes due to work or family responsibilities or health/mobility issues.”
The first phase of the trial will provide enhanced distance learning online resources for teachers and home tutors. The focus will then turn to delivering interactive and collaborative services to distance learning clients in NBN-connected communities.
A comprehensive evaluation will be completed towards the conclusion of the trial in 2013-14.
The trial will provide feedback on how these services could be delivered nationwide and is an important step towards the development of virtual classrooms and interoperability across a broad range of devices.
Senator Kate Lundy, the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, said the trial could play a crucial role in helping people successfully settle in Australia.
“This will provide a strong and cost effective future for the delivery of services such as AMEP, while also providing English learning options to eligible migrants and humanitarian entrants which complement their personal circumstances and commitments,” Senator Lundy said.
For more information about the AMEP, visit www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/help-with-english/amep/