Since first stepping into the classroom — initially in England and then France — Diane Gallais has taught in primary schools, high schools, colleges and universities.
After teaching in Europe for a number of years, where she even launched her own independent language learning association, Diane and her family made the move to Australia.
Diane originally accepted a teaching role for the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program at Central Queensland University (CQU) in Rockhampton. But when the delivery of both programs transitioned to TAFE Queensland, Diane was brought on as an educator and assessor.
"It was a very smooth transition for our students. For a number of months, TAFE Queensland continued to deliver at the CQU campus, so students were studying in a familiar space with a familiar face — me — as their teacher," Diane said.
Diane’s passion for language education translated well within the AMEP and SEE classrooms, which both focus on the development of language, literacy and numeracy skills.
"Our AMEP students are from migrant backgrounds, whereas our SEE students are mainly Australians in need of further training in order to find work or change their career pathway," Diane said.
"Our students arrive from various horizons and in different circumstances, and it’s so rewarding to accompany them as they achieve their goals, whatever that may be," she said.
"It might be gaining Australian citizenship, enrolling into other courses, or starting their first job. But seeing their faces light up, you know you are making a difference in their lives."
As the COVID-19 pandemic imposed its share of challenges, Diane worked tirelessly to adapt to the new teaching environment.
"We switched to a mixed-mode delivery, and online teaching stomped — with great force — into my comfort zone," Diane said.
"In saying that, I really enjoyed the opportunity to break from routine and apply new teaching techniques."
For Diane’s students, who largely possess lower levels of language, literacy and numeracy, online learning presented its own hurdles.
"My students have demonstrated amazing efforts and endurance during this process," Diane said.
"Despite the hardships of COVID-19, they have developed digital and oral skills in an unexpected way."
The online learning period also presented an opportunity to secure new class premises in Rockhampton. As of the beginning of Term 4 2020, AMEP and SEE classes will be offered in the new location at 42 William Street.
For Diane, whose teaching career has spanned across continents, cohorts, and language programs, the next adventure is just beginning.
"In my years teaching the AMEP and SEE programs, I have witnessed students with very low confidence levels reach out and make friends, build their English language skills, and leave the program with a job in hand," Diane said.
"As a teacher, it’s an invaluable reward."
The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered by TAFE Queensland.
The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program is funded by the Australian Government of Education, Skills and Employment.
The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered through TAFE Queensland.