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Mind your language: Taking a class at Queenstown’s Southern Lakes English College are, from left, Marcia Ito, Diego Carvalho, teacher Poppy Llewellyn, Yuka Nishina, Marketa Moravcova, Camilo Henriquez, Juan Arias, Clare Park and Luciana Schio

By GUY WILLIAMS

The last English language school operating in Queenstown is delivering a free, full-time course to 70 former migrant workers after securing government funding.

Southern Lakes English College in Shotover St successfully applied for a ‘‘very small’’ slice of a $1.5 million Tertiary Education Commission fund to deliver the 12-week course, boss Bharat Guha says.

He and its 12 staff are ‘‘extremely happy’’, and see the funding as a vote of confidence in their ability to provide a high-quality course.

When the students graduate, they’ll be able to attend full-time programmes at the Southern Institute of Technology’s Queenstown campus, the Queenstown Resort College or Otago Polytechnic, Guha says.

To be eligible for the programme, they have to be 16 or older, have English language needs, and either be a partner of a New Zealand work visa or
visitor visa holder, or the child of a visitor visa holder.

Full-time high school students aren’t eligible.

In another initiative aimed at ensuring the college’s survival, it has run trial programmes with the Panama government and a Chinese university to teach
English online, and is waiting to see if they’ll be taken up.

Queenstown mayor Jim Boult says the government funding’s critical for helping migrants study.

That, in turn, will lead to new job opportunities and ‘‘increased wellbeing and security’’.

The resort’s two other language schools went into hibernation last month after their last students finished their courses.

Language Schools New Zealand, in Remarkables Park, and ABC College of English, in Man St, are waiting on the outcome of applications to another government fund.

The fund’s designed to serve as a lifeline until international students are allowed back into the country.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz