In conversation with Jakki Postlethwaite, Academic Manager, Explore English – Finalist in the 2020 Victorian International Education Awards
The current times are a challenging period for everyone, with a lack of ‘normalcy’ in our daily lives, which can be stressful for many people. This is also true for the international students on our shores, who are away from their families and loved ones, and everything that is familiar to them. During these difficult times, Explore English, has committed to help the international student community, providing every necessary support and demonstrating an exceptional Academic Care system throughout the pandemic.
In recognition of its programs, aimed at delivering an outstanding English language program experience to international students, Explore English was recently adjudged a Finalist in the 2020 Victorian International Education Awards for Excellence in International Education – English Language Training, presented by Study Melbourne. Here, we speak with Jakki Postlethwaite, Academic Manager of Explore English, about this recognition and the school’s programs, which have played a vital role in supporting its international students.
1. How does it feel to be a finalist of the VIEA Award 2020?
We feel honoured to have been selected as a VIEA Award Finalist for 2020. It was an unprecedented year for everyone, and our focus was to ensure that our students felt engaged, connected, and supported during these trying times. Apart from the academic care and learning, we also strive to develop cultural awareness and community engagement through a range of activities, and since the pandemic, we also worked even more closely with our dedicated Student Welfare Coordinator to help support our students’ mental health and wellbeing. We are thankful to all the staff involved, and to the VIEA team, as well as Study Melbourne, for this extremely encouraging and motivating recognition of our efforts.
2. 2020 was a difficult year for many, how did you keep your students motivated and engaged?
We could see that many of the students were emotionally, mentally and even financially struggling as stricter restrictions were imposed on Melbourne, which had adverse effects on the working lives of everyone, including our students. We wanted to be able to assist them in as many ways as possible, on all levels. We made financial arrangements, provided additional mental health and wellbeing support, and changed our approach to teaching, not only in response to the government restrictions, but also to better suit our students’ circumstances. We know that our constant contact and engagement at our every step of the way, helped the students feel safe, secure, and supported as we faced the challenges together.
3. How do you ensure that international students with Explore English get a 360-degree view of life in Australia?
Being an international student takes courage and sacrifice, and we really want our students to make the most of this unique opportunity of studying, living, and working in another country. To help enhance their academic and Australian cultural experience, we help students learn the English language, encourage discussion on and engagement with the local culture, and foster social activities through the nurturing of friendships as well as the development of social networks.
We also focus on familiarisation experiences that help students develop cultural awareness as well as a sense of community engagement. Some of the familiarisation activities include guided tours of Melbourne attractions, events, and exhibitions. This helps the students get better acquainted with all that Melbourne has to offer and gives them the confidence to explore the city on their own. We also conduct social activities, such as yoga classes, and special interest clubs – all designed to foster interpersonal skills and personal development.
4. What makes Explore English stand out from the crowd?
I think our Academic Care System is what sets us apart from the crowd. It’s a complete, holistic approach committed to providing the best possible international student experience. It consists of four main features – Teaching and Learning, Progress Monitoring, Extra-curricular activities, and maintaining Positive Relationships.
We believe in an all-inclusive learning experience which also fosters a deep understanding and appreciation for continuing engagement between student-student, student-teacher, and student-wider community. Our teaching philosophy encompasses an ongoing practice to motivate our students and to inspire lifelong skills.
We are committed to our students and to maximising their learning experience, not just academically but also socially and personally.
Sincere thanks to our students for their ongoing support and our staff for their unending dedication and commitment, without whom, this achievement would not have been possible.