Three siblings from overseas are starting their first year in a mainstream Melbourne school.
Dunya, Ramonya and Bronil were born in Iraq. Their family left Iraq to go to Jordan where they stayed for a little over a year. Finally, they were able to come to Australia where they lived in Queensland for a month before finding their permanent home in Melbourne. When the family settled into their new home, the siblings enrolled at the Western English Language School (WELS) in late 2017.
ELS are government schools that educate students and their families from diverse cultures and backgrounds who are new to Australia. The school focuses on building the childrens' English language skills, cultural understanding and confidence so they can better adapt to their community. They receive support at the ELS including access to laptops, Myki cards, health and counselling services.
New school, new teachers, new subjects
Dunya, Ramonya and Bronil's family speak Assyrian at home and they also understand Arabic.
Dunya says the teachers at WELS helped them understand and learn how to speak English. Today, Dunya loves playing sport, going bowling and recently got her learner's drivers license with a near perfect score. Ramonya says she has enjoyed being at WELS, especially maths and doing science experiments. In her spare time, Ramonya works hard on her homework, and has found a love of playing piano and singing in the church choir.
'I found the work at WELS initially very hard, but later it got easier,' said Bronil.
This year, the siblings are starting their first year at Keilor Downs Secondary College. They are preparing for their first day by visiting the school. Meeting their 'nice' new teachers is helping to soothe their fears and worries.
The siblings are bringing their resilient attitude from ELS to mainstream school. 'At the beginning it will be hard, and then it will be easy,' Ramonya says, echoing Bronil.
Dunya is hoping to study STEM subjects. Ramonya and Bronil are going to learn Japanese, adding to their impressive range of language skills.
As the siblings move into their exciting new phase of education in Australia, Ramonya has some words of encouragement for the next generation of students starting at an ELS:
'Learn English, make new friends, know new people – good luck!'
tips for going back to school
Even though your child's schooling may be in English, it's important to
speak to your child in the language you know best