Rajika Agampodi wanted to improve her English skills and earn an income before studying law – her former profession in Sri Lanka.
The English for Child Care stream of Melbourne Polytechnic's Certificate III in ESL (Employment) met both requirements. She enjoyed the course so much she's now studying a Diploma of Children's Services and considering working in child protection.
Rajika Agampodi completed a Bachelor of Law and practised law in Sri Lanka for two years, then moved to Australia with her husband while she was pregnant. She always intended to return to law after the birth of her baby, but she needed to improve her English and wanted to earn money while she studied. She chose Melbourne Polytechnic, formerly known as Melbourne Polytechnic, to do her studies.
"I tried to find a suitable place. Finally I decided that Melbourne Polytechnic is a good place because many people had told me it has a good reputation. As I did research I realised at Melbourne Polytechnic there was an opportunity to improve my English and at the same time, improve my job skills."
In 2010, Rajika chose the English for Child Care stream of the Melbourne Polytechnic Certificate III in ESL (Employment). She wasn't sure about the study area at first, but now she enjoys learning about the industry. "I'm really happy. I've got a passion for it."
She enjoyed it so much she is still studying Children's Services – completing the Melbourne Polytechnic Certificate III in Children's Services in the first half of 2011 and beginning the Melbourne Polytechnic Diploma of Children's Services (Early Childhood Education and Care).
Studying Children's Services while learning English has been challenging but rewarding. "When we first started it was a bit hard for us because everyone came from different backgrounds and countries and there were some technical words, so we had to work hard to understand."
"I wasn't very confident using English, but today I'm very confident. I can express myself, I can express my feelings and I can communicate, which is really important for me. Now if the teacher is saying something I can ask, 'Why is this happening?' and say, "My opinion is different'."
"The teachers are really helpful. We just came here and we didn't know anything about this country. They helped us understand a bit about Australia and its background. It was a very good way of entering the country."
The students also received help from Melbourne Polytechnic staff with career planning, writing resumes and cover letters, and interview techniques, as well as study skills such as writing assignments.
As part of her studies Rajika has completed two work placements, which the students were encouraged to organise on their own. "I think that was good to build our self-esteem and our confidence. The English teachers helped us make the calls."
When she has finished the the Melbourne Polytechnic Diploma of Children's Services (Early Childhood Education and Care) Rajika will either complete further study to become a kindergarten teacher or return to studying law. She says she might try to combine the two careers by working in a field such as child protection
Diploma of Children's Services (Early Childhood Education and Care), Certificate III in ESL (Employment) (English for childcare stream)