Teaching Team

  • Mr Chu Nguyen – Bi Lingual Vietnamese/English support for all students.
  • Mrs Jill McFarlane – Reading comprehension and conversation for post beginners.
  • Ms Suzanne Albert – English for post beginner students.
  • Mrs Jenny Dusting – Introduction to English and conversation for beginners and post beginners.
  • Mr John Keysers – Conversation class for students of all levels.Ms. Vandana – IT session

This year we are fortunate to have obtained the services of Mr John Keysers who has joined the teaching team. He is working on English conversation with all students.

The students studying with Vandana have produced some excellent computer programs which they have shown us recently.

The teachers have been very happy to welcome new students to our classes and value the attendance of our faithful students who have been with us for many years.

MONDAY CLASSES 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Suzan Albert

Language forms the most essential bridges between people. We need it to communicate, to work and to deal with daily life.

Participants attending English Language Classes at SICMAA are keen to improved their English skills, but our classes aim to do much more.

In addition to teaching the foundations of English language, lessons aim to connect students to Australian life, be it an encounter with customs officers at the airport, learning about our history and culture or discussing the Great Barrier Reef.

Beyond Australia, we aim to provide bridges to the rapidly-changing world, so that students are able to understand and discuss current news stories and important issues.

A major goal is to give class members the confidence to speak. Hence, they are always encouraged to practise pronunciation, contribute to discussions and ask questions. Often, their questions lead us in new directions and to new topics. Hence the SICMAA program is planned, but flexible, to fit the needs, interests and concerns of the students.

In Term 1 of 2019, the extreme summer led us to discussions about climate change. There was much new vocabulary to learn, along with adjectives and comparative words; we certainly needed “hot, hotter, hottest” last summer!

Students also located Victoria’s major rivers and water catchments on a map.

After a term spent discussing our climate and landscapes, writer Dorothea Mackellar had the last word with her iconic poem “My Country”, a wonderful example of how words can describe our sunburnt country.

In Term 2, our focus was on people. How do we tell life stories?

Each week, we met the famous Australians pictured on our money, which in turn led to discussions on early settlers, social history, women in politics and national heroes.

We also read the stories of ordinary people and students wrote about their own mothers’ lives. To do this, they had to learn how to write a complete sentence and how to describe a special person.

In Term 3 of 2019, we asked the question: What is in your suitcase? Dealing with officials can be especially difficult when you lack confidence in your English skills. In class we re-enacted customs inspections with a bag of food items to declare.

Further lessons looked in detail at the reasons for Australia’s strict quarantine laws. We read about many examples of pests and diseases that have arrived on our shores uninvited, and we discussed the serious consequences. Fire ants seemed especially alarming to us all. Students also researched problem animals and plants that have been deliberately brought to Australia, presenting short talks to the class on cane toads, rabbits and more.

Lastly, after locating our states on a map, we discussed quarantine restrictions at state borders.

Throughout Term 3, we focused on “numbers” and how to say them in various situations. Duty-free limits and the number of red foxes in Australia (6 million!) provided practical examples.

In Term 4 we will talk about the latest scams, public transport, housing options for the aging, the recycling problem facing our local councils and what’s new in Melbourne.

Each week, the goal is that students leave the classroom having learnt new words, a better way of saying something, feeling more confident to use their English and thinking, “That was interesting.”

Above all, SICMAA is a place where students and teachers come together to share laughter, support and friendship. These are the most important connections of all.

TUESDAY CLASSES 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Mixed Abilities Class
Jill McFarlane

It is hard to believe another year has come and gone so quickly.

It is a pleasure to teach my Tuesday English class at SICMAA. The students are always keen to learn and expand their knowledge of English in the spoken and written form. It is encouraging to see them ask for assistance and to clarify information, vocabulary or situations they are unfamiliar with. In particular, it is pleasing to see a greater number of students participate in discussions. Always ready for some fun and a laugh, the students enthusiastically compete in games and quizzes.

In Term 1 we concentrated on road safety, road rules and driving etiquette. Completing a VIC Roads’ road rule quiz each week highlighted areas that needed revision while also demonstrating improvement.

With a Federal election looming in Term 2, we studied the budget and the policies of the two main parties. We also looked at banking, shopping and reading our utility bills and different methods to pay them.

During third term we studied the processes of buying and selling a home.

This term we are investigating sport and its importance to Australians, the role of pets in our lives and colour. We have also planned a trip to the Fitzroy Gardens later this term.

Many new faces have joined our class in 2019. It is always pleasing to see our regular students embrace the newcomers and their presence has led to a more diverse and interactive class.

Many thanks to all of the students for their attendance, participation and ongoing friendship.


WEDNESDAY CLASSES 11:45am – 1:45 pm
Conversational English
John Keysers

Participant comments

1.I am the oldest participant in the class and English takes time for me to learn. John is helping me to understand English step by step. This makes me happy. Everyone in the class is warm and friendly. I also want to say thank you to SICMAA and all of the teachers.

2.When I am in the class with John, I feel interested because he works with me to understand the English language.

3.I can practice listening and speaking in English in the class with John.

4.John teachers us to pronounce new words which we may not have spoken properly before. Sometimes he uses conversations about food and cooking to expand our English.

5.When I came to Australia, I could not speak English but now my children are grown up I have the time to come to SICMAA to learn English. Now I am very happy because I enjoy English classes.

6.I feel very comfortable; all of the class are very friendly. John gives me more confidence to speak English.

7.I don’t hear or speak English very well. I go to English classes at SICMAA so that I can speak to other people in the community. I like SICMAA. Thank you very much.

8.When I came to Australia I arrived on a bridging visa. I did not know about SICMAA or other community support groups. I have now been learning English at SICMAA and my English is improving. I am very grateful to SICMAA.

9.I have tried conversation with John about food and I feel comfortable to do this.

Facilitator and Coach

Be Ha called me one day while I was on holiday in Melbourne. She told me that she needed someone to take a Conversational English group at SICMAA and asked me if I could help out. Be Ha is very persuasive, so I agreed to begin at SICMAA at the beginning of Term 3 in July. In the first session there were ten people who I am sure were all wondering who this new person was, a big man with a big voice!

It has taken a little while, but I think most people are now comfortable with how I approach our two hours together every Wednesday morning. The group includes eight to ten people who come every week and about seven or eight others who come occasionally. Over the past few months we have tried to engage each other in conversation using topics such as:

  • Telling personal stories
  • Talking about favourite recipes and how to cook delicious food
  • Using pictures of food to talk about what we see
  • Watching and discussing videos of everyone taking about food
  • Talking about things in the daily news
  • Reading and talking about stories, poetry, legends and folktales

Meeting with the group each Wednesday is something I look forward to because everyone is so good nature, and we are getting better and better at being able to engage in conversation in a very sociable, respectful and positive way. Along the way I hope that everyone feels that their ability to converse in English is improving.



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