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For the past five Monday mornings, a diverse group of people have been meeting at St Andrews Centre in Waiuku.  They originate from India, Taiwan, Korea, Tonga, Philippines, South Africa, Romania and range in age from 23 to 80 years.

They have one thing in common—the desire to improve their spoken English skills.

Anisha Santhoshkumar  (from right back row, first person) knows this feeling well. She vividly remembers arriving in New Zealand and how she was reluctant to leave the house without her husband in case someone spoke to her and she was expected to respond.

Anisha recognises that this fear of speaking creates a huge stumbling block to immigrants, preventing many from integrating successfully into their local community and living to their full potential.

As part of her role as Young Families and Children’s Coordinator at St. Andrews Centre, Anisha has come into contact with a number of local people who are in the same situation, which prompted her to take the initiative in establishing an informal English Conversation Group. With the support of St Andrews Community Trust and a team of volunteers, a comprehensive five-week programme has evolved that includes lots of sharing, laughter and chatter.

Anisha intends to repeat this initial programme and also planning to run follow-up sessions for those who have already attended. Anisha hopes that she can build on this program further and spread the advert by word of mouth.

There has been great feedback from the participants, saying they have enjoyed the kindness and friendship within the group.

For more information contact St Andrews Community Trust, on  0212648654 / 0220243425 or email:

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