Migrants get free courses in Kiwi slang
4:00AM Friday May 22, 2009
By Lincoln Tan

After being told she was "wicked" by her boss, Singaporean immigrant Teoh Mei Fang was left wondering if she had done something wrong at work.

It was only after her boss, lawyer Marie Dyhrberg, explained that in Kiwi slang it was a compliment and not criticism - that she managed a sigh of relief.

"English is my first language, but Kiwi English is really something else," said Miss Teoh, who moved to New Zealand last year.

Now, English Language Partners New Zealand - formerly ESOL Home Tutors - has started a programme it hopes will help immigrants to hurdle the slang barrier.

Called English for Employees, the programme teaches that "bring a plate" does not mean an empty one, "choice" means very good and "hunky- dory" means everything's okay.

English Language Partners spokeswoman Grace Bassett said: "The English that will be taught is centred around the needs of the learner. It will help those who are already in jobs hold a conversation in the tearoom, improve their English skills and make sure they are fitting in."

The programme is free for permanent residents, citizens and employers who enrol their immigrant employees.

Professor Paul Spoonley, Massey University's regional director and acting head of language studies, said studies showed "colloquial language is the most important language to learn".

"Not being able to speak it is one of the major, major barriers to successful integration."

From here.