Why is there a need for this service? Asylum seekers are not entitled to attend the 510 hours of free English instruction offered to newly arrived immigrants. Without English they are handicapped in their daily survival and in their ability to plead their case for asylum, access resources and (for those with work rights) to seek employment. ASRC’s ESL Classes aim to equip students with basic survival English as well as providing tuition in reading, writing, listening and speaking to more advanced students.

What We Do

We offer classes to ASRC members each morning of each weekday. Students are able to attend one day a week or more if they choose. The program is run by volunteers who are qualified and experienced teachers, providing small-group tuition for all levels with a minimum of three tutors daily.

We tutor learners in English conversation, reading, writing and comprehension – to assist them to adapt effectively to their new environment and to effectively participate in Australian employment and community. The class atmosphere is welcoming and supportive where students can relax and socialize as they learn.

Adult learners come to us via referrals from other ASRC programs, particularly Casework, and on arrival are allocated to an appropriate level group. There is a high level of cross-cultural interaction with many students being of African, Middle Eastern and Asian descent, and they generate a rich exchange of ideas about differing backgrounds and cultural practices. Our teaching incorporates aspects of Australian cultural history and society along with the usual EAL study materials. In addition, concepts such as ethnic diversity as rich and valuable, tolerance, mutual respect, ‘a fair go’, and respect for religious diversity are included as topics for class discussion and in study materials.

To find out how to volunteer at the ASRC and be a part of our EAL team, please click here.

Person seeking asylum - Wondwosen Doprese


“English is the first language of Australia and I need to improve my English to get a job. I’m very happy in the classes because the teachers are good, so I’m not afraid to speak. As well as listening and writing we learn customs, like when to say ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Sorry’. I socialise with students from other countries. We practise English together.” 29 years old, from Ethiopia.

Volunteer - Agnes Cauchi

“When an asylum seeker first arrives at our classroom they appear frightened. New arrivals often have no English and are in culture shock, particularly if arriving from a detention centre. Weeks follow, and change is visible; they are more relaxed, start smiling and speaking some English. After a longer period our learners start to have conversations with volunteers at the centre, with family, friends and neighbours. Teachers and students rejoice when one of them is granted a permanent residency.”

English as an Additional Language Photo Gallery