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Settlement Guide: how to access free English classes for new migrants

Source: Jinsun Lane/SBS

The Australian government provides free English classes for migrants and refugees.

Being able to speak and write English well can make all the difference for migrants wanting to find work and to connect with other Australians.

That’s why the government offers free English learning programs for certain migrants and refugees.

The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)

Yazidi Refugees arriving in Wagga Wagga
Yazidi Refugees learning English at TAFE NSW Riverina Institute (SBS Arabic 24)
SBS Arabic 24

What is it?

It’s a program aimed at newly-arrived migrants so they can learn the foundation of English and settlement skills. Eligible people can get up to 510 hours of free English tuition.

Am I eligible?

You need to be a permanent resident or have an eligible temporary visa, like a Partner visa or a Temporary Protection visa. 

You need to register with an AMEP provider within six months of your arrival to Australia. Children and teenagers under 18 have 12 months to register. You then have to start your course within 12 months and complete it within five years.

How do I enrol?

There are almost 300 AMEP providers in Australia. Have a look at the list here and contact the one closest to you to enrol. 

Information in your language

Most AMEP providers will have bilingual staff to help you in your language when you make your initial inquiry. There will also often be bilingual volunteers in the classrooms.

To learn more about AMEP in your language, visit this page

Skills for Education and Employment (SEE)

Learning the English alphabet
Learning the English alphabet (Image via Pro-Image photography)
Pro-Image photography

What is it?

The SEE program might be for you if you’ve been in Australia for longer than six months, already have a foundation in English, but need to improve your language skills to find a job.

Eligible people have access to up to 800 hours of free literacy and numeracy training, geared towards finding a job.

Who is eligible?

You have to:

  • Be between 15 and 64 years old
  • Be registered as a job seeker with the Department of Human Services  (DHS)
  • Not be a full-time student
  • Meet the rules on visa status and benefits

You can find all the eligibility criteria here

How do I enrol?

You need to be referred by the DHS and employment service providers like jobactive or ParentsNext.

You can call the DHS at this number to have more information: 132 850

Flexible learning 

Both programs offer very flexible learning environments. It means that it’s possible to study in a classroom or do distance learning, you can study full-time or part-time, during the day or in the evening.

If you attend the AMEP in classrooms, there will be free childcare provided for children under school age.

File image of children playing at a child care centre
AAP

A pathway to professional courses and employment

Since adult learning providers give those English classes, it will make it easier to pathway into professional courses once you’ve finished your English courses. There are many migrants in the adult learning system, so a lot of the courses are geared towards their needs.

Useful links

AMEP 

AMEP (information in 26 languages)  

SEE 

Reading Writing Hotline 1300 6 555 06

Adult Learners Week 1-8 September 

AMES - migrant and refugee settlement services 

Adult Learning Australia 

 

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