Improving life for Coast's new arrivals through language

Woy Woy ESL classes.

Improving life for Coast's new arrivals through language ESL conversation classes in Woy Woy.

"Amen" and "lord" aren't the only things you'll regularly hear if you pass Woy Woy's Presbyterian church.


For the past four years, it's also been a place where phrases such as "How much is it?" and "I would like to make an appointment" have consistently come up.


ESL conversation classes in Woy Woy began to help people for whom English is not a first language learn phrases they can use on a daily basis - whether it be when shopping, going to the doctors, calling Triple 0 or just chatting with neighbours.


Volunteer and retired banker David Green says they average around 30 people at each Tuesday morning session, where they can choose from beginner, intermediate or advanced English.


"When I moved to the Central Coast 10 years ago, I didn’t think it was a multicultural area, but I’ve been amazed at how many nationalities are living here” David says. 


"We've helped over 100 students from 27 nationalities - mostly Asian, but also Peruvian, French, Russian - since it began," he says.


“Most are from the peninsula, but some come from as far as Gosford. Many are just short term, and stay 3-6 months, and some move onto TAFE having done the classes so they can get certificates."


English language skills are important for new migrants to the Central Coast, which has traditionally not seen the same levels of non-European Immigration as Australia’s big cities.


The latest Census data reveals 78% of us have either Australian or British ancestry, compared to 61% nationally, and 79% of us were born in Australia (66% nationally).


88.4% of us speak only English at home, with the rates for languages other than English spoken at home also well below the national average.


But David says multiculturalism is starting to make its mark on the Coast, and connecting our new arrivals to the community early is crucial to this.


“I think just assimilating people into the community - and getting them meeting and mixing with the locals - is the prime objective of the classes, and it does seem to be working."


“We get students who have since left us or moved interstate or back overseas, and send us emails. And the volunteers keep coming back every year - they love it.”


To get involved visit ESL Conversation classes in Woy Woy on Facebook ( or call 0425 371 967.