‘It will be hard because I will have to learn lots of English’: Experiences of education for children newly arrived in Australia
de Heer, N
Riggs, Damien Wayne
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Educational experiences during childhood are critically important for development, but migrant children often experience unique challenges. To ameliorate these, extra training in English language - such as provided by the Intensive English language program in South Australia (IELP) - is frequently offered to children taking on English as an additional language (EAL). The present study aimed to examine the experience of transition into mainstream classes for children in the IELP, particularly in relation to their overall wellbeing. As such, the study utilised interviews conducted with newly arrived children in Australia aged five to 13 who were enrolled in an IELP, with interviews conducted both pre and post transition into mainstream primary school classes. The findings indicate that most children felt anxious prior to transition, especially regarding speaking English, but were less concerned about this once entering their new class. Making friends was considered to be difficult, but easier when there were children with whom they were familiar from other contexts, or if there was another child in the class with a shared cultural or linguistic background.