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Immigration strategy a step forward

Immigration strategy a step forward

A government strategy to help immigrants adjust to life as Kiwis is major step forward, according to an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) expert.

The ESOL strategy was unveiled in Parliament this week and the Head of UNITEC's School of English and Applied Linguistics, Lois Bellingham, says it is long overdue. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel is travelling to UNITEC for the strategy's Auckland launch on Friday.

The strategy lays out the government's vision and future direction for settling new New Zealanders and Ms Bellingham says it addresses some long-standing issues.

"Initially many immigrants and refugees find life in New Zealand frustrating. They want to work and make a contribution to New Zealand, but often due to language and cultural differences they are unable to. There is a huge resource of qualified people unable to contribute to the country because of a real or perceived lack of English proficiency."

Ms Bellingham welcomes the governments plans to help these people adjust to life in New Zealand. "Up until now there hasn't been much help for them - in other countries settlement policies include access to free English tuition, but in New Zealand this has not been the case.

"Many immigrants pay fees for two to three years of English classes before they can even get to square one - professional or skills-based study."

Ms Bellingham says she invited the Minister to hold a launch of the strategy at UNITEC because she felt the issues it addressed were extremely important for Auckland. "With the large immigrant population in Auckland, I felt it was important the strategy was launched here as well in Wellington and suggested it to the Minister's office."

She says UNITEC has a complete pathway to help immigrants improve their English language skills and move into employment or higher studies, making it the logical place to host the launch.

"More than 95% of the students in our school are immigrants and refugees and we already offer study grants, career advice and drop-in facilities to assist them."

What: Launch of adult ESOL strategy

When: 4.30pm, Friday, 16 May

Where: Red Lecture Theatre, Gate 3, UNITEC Institute of Technology, Carrington Road, Mount Albert

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