This Q & A summarizes research undertaken within the AMEP to identify groups of adult learners with special needs and the learning barriers that face them; it gives examples of curriculum strategies, classroom practices, and policy initiatives developed to overcome these barriers and improve the effectiveness of learning; and it identifies issues still to be resolved.
At that time, the government launched a large-scale planned immigration initiative to build the country's postwar infrastructure that included several components.
For example, the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) was created as part of the government's strategy to facilitate the settlement process.
The Australian Second Language Proficiency Rating (ASLPR) was developed to provide a common language assessment scale.
There was no mechanism to accredit courses, issue credentials, or transfer credits into higher education or vocational programs.
In the 1990s, a convergence of factors provided the impetus for moving English language teaching from the fringes into mainstream vocational education and training reform.
Research undertaken during the International Year of Literacy uncovered the extent of adult illiteracy among the Australian-born (Wickert, 1989), raising considerable concern in the community.
At the same time, the re-structuring of Australian industry to become competitive globally served to highlight vital links between language and literacy skills and employment, productivity, and training.
The teaching workforce was professionalized through a generous policy of study leave for teachers to gain specialist qualifications in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).
An alliance was established between AMEP providers and a key academic center for teaching and research, now known as the National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research (NCELTR).
Yet, despite its high professional quality, English language instruction for adults remained marginalized.
It was regarded as part of immigration services rather than education.