As a migrant herself, Claire Chiu describes her teaching role in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) as an extension of the positive impacts of TAFE Queensland and the Australian Government on her own settlement journey.
Claire first stepped into the classroom 23 years ago as an English teacher in Taiwan.
“Growing up with Taiwanese as my mother tongue and Mandarin as my language of education, I enjoyed languages and was drawn to English as an international means of communication,” Claire said.
“Dad spoke fluent English and he encouraged me to learn. Ultimately, he’s the one who inspired me to start teaching.”
In 2008, Claire made the move to Australia. Soon after settling into life on the Gold Coast, she applied for a volunteer tutor role at TAFE Queensland’s Southport campus.
Volunteer tutors provide added support to students in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), which delivers free English language classes to assist migrants and refugees with their settlement journey.
The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs and delivered by TAFE Queensland across 33 locations.
Claire is well equipped to engage with the students and address any challenges they might be facing.
“Having learned English as a third language, I understand the difficulties new learners face when immersing themselves in a new language,” she said.
Claire volunteered in the AMEP classrooms for three years, and credited the experience for inspiring her eventual career path.
“This volunteering experience — the dedicated educators that surrounded me, the joy I received from my colleagues and students — inspired me to return to university to become a qualified AMEP/SEE teacher,” Claire said.
In pursuit of her goal, Claire first completed a Language, Literacy and Numeracy course at TAFE Queensland.
“My teachers were very knowledgeable and supportive, providing me with the skills I needed to study at an Australian university,” she said.
In 2018, Claire graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and officially joined TAFE Queensland as a qualified AMEP and SEE (Skills for Education and Employment) teacher.
Claire's role in the classroom extends beyond teaching English. She’s also there to support and encourage students who feel out of place and unsure of their surroundings.
“Apart from making sure the lesson goes well, I also ensure the classroom is a safe place where every student feels comfortable enough to take risks and try their best,” she said.
And while the AMEP is primarily known as an English language program, Claire affirmed how valuable the program is for settlement support.
“On top of practical English for living, working and studying in Australia, we teach about banking, housing and driving. When the need arises, I also assist students to access free services such as counselling and settlement support.”
Twenty-three years after she first stepped into the classroom, Claire’s passion and purpose for teaching is as strong as ever.
“I can say with certainty that volunteering and teaching in the AMEP and SEE programs gives me the opportunity to help newly arrived students and acknowledge what TAFE Queensland and the Australian Government have done for me.”
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 & Employment (SEE) program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
For more information about the AMEP and SEE, visit tafeqld.edu.au/tells.