What the Salvation Army is doing to Empower Domestic Workers in Singapore Through English Proficiency

There is a rising trend of migrant domestic workers from countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar. Many come here hoping for better job opportunities to support their families back home. However, regardless of nationality, one major challenge they face is the need for more skills, which can limit their options and make them vulnerable to exploitation. That’s where organisations like the Salvation Army step in. Through basic English courses held at centres including Sojourn and CareHaven, they help foreign domestic workers with basic conversational and practical English skills.

Salvation Army Programs English Courses For Domestic Helpers

The free courses by the Salvation Army and other organisations have benefitted thousands yearly. The introductory course covers conversations and is conducted in English to help them communicate better with employers and reduce misunderstandings caused by the language barrier. Many have secured better employment opportunities when they return home after improving their language during their stint in Singapore. Communicating in English helps them adapt to and integrate better into society instead of feeling homesick and alienated. It also reduces their vulnerability to human trafficking and workplace exploitation.

A domestic maid and a little girl learn to make a paper airplane conversing in English at home

What are the Benefits of English Proficiency for Helpers in Singapore?

The English language and skills training courses the Salvation Army provides to over 10,000 domestic workers in Singapore each year are life-changing. Studies by the organisation reveal the far-reaching benefits these classes offer. Most households look to hire a nanny to care for their little ones, as life in Singapore tends to be hectic with work.

The key to a successful employment relationship is clear communication, mutual respect, and efforts to understand each other’s needs. Investing in language and skills training can facilitate this. As employers, you can help enrol your caretaker and workers who want to learn English to converse better with their employers. Employers can acquire these lessons with the Salvation Army. Once they can speak better, enrolling them on mindful nanny courses, care courses, or even child first aid will further benefit parents. Parents will benefit long-term from learning about respectful caregiving and effective communication. Caretakers will be able to learn how to play and interact positively with babies. For families with toddlers and older children, implementing conscious discipline is beneficial and gentle discipline makes it easier for parents.  In addition to helping your domestic worker learn English, you can also improve your English skills. Since many households in Singapore speak Mandarin or Malay, this is a great opportunity for you to practice English conversation at home. Communicating in English together will improve your English too!

Overcoming Isolation Through Communication

One significant benefit is empowering them to communicate better with employers and navigate into society. Many arrive facing language barriers, leading to isolation and vulnerability as employers cannot speak their native languages. We can help your helper by teaching additional skills to your worker. The English classes allow workers to gain vocabulary and pronunciation skills to interact with employers about duties, time off, and essential needs. Even basic conversation abilities significantly reduce isolation. Workers can ask for directions, make purchases, and understand local culture.

Reducing the Risk of Exploitation

This connects to the essential benefit – of reducing human trafficking and labour exploitation risks. The lack of a shared language significantly enables abuse and mistreatment by employers. Traffickers also target women with limited English skills under the pretence of household work. The Salvation Army’s language classes are often the first interaction outside the control of traffickers. By conversing in English, helpers will learn how to seek help and advocacy.

A Pathway to Empowerment

Introductory English courses for helpers encourage them to gain confidence, social support, and access to opportunities. Communication is power, and the Salvation Army’s classes pave the pathway.

A young woman, who is an English courses instructor for foreign domestic workers, is diligently writing on a clipboard as she sits comfortably on a couch.

Online Development Courses

In today’s digital age, online learning has become increasingly popular and accessible. This trend extends to domestic helper courses in Singapore, with various online video training platforms offering multiple courses. Helpers keen to learn basic computer lessons will be able to learn useful topics on how to learn skills found online. Learning computer skills is an additional bonus for both helpers and employers!

Online classes for domestic helpers offer several key advantages for helpers looking to expand their skills and knowledge. Firstly, they provide flexibility – helpers can access training materials and complete courses at their own pace and convenience outside working hours. Secondly, these platforms offer an immense variety of topics, ranging from foundational language skills to specialised courses on parenting, cooking, child development, etc. Thirdly, online courses are often more cost-effective than traditional in-person classes, making continual learning affordable. Finally, the best training platforms introduce new video lessons and materials regularly. This ensures helpers can expand their knowledge and abilities through regular content updates. By leveraging these benefits of flexibility, variety, affordability, and regular updates, online training enables helpers to improve their skillsets efficiently.

Popular online training resources for domestic workers include Aidha, EQUIP, Mary Poppins Training, and more. Employers can explore these platforms to find courses that suit their helper’s needs and schedule. Book as early as possible is advisable as many are willing to learn a new skill set.

Supportive Additional Skills Your Domestic Worker Can Find

Singapore offers various organisations and networks supporting domestic helpers and their employers. These resources are crucial in facilitating a positive and enriching experience for both parties.

Some well-known support networks and resources include:

  • Bunda Network: Bunda Network offers training, support, and resources for helpers, focusing on their holistic well-being.
  • Home Academy: Home Academy offers courses that equip helpers with essential life skills and empower them to succeed.

Employers and helpers can access these organisations and networks for guidance, assistance, and valuable resources.

A staff from The Salvation Army wearing a mask supporting a lady sitting on a bench next to a garden

How do your Donations Make a Difference for vulnerable migrant workers?

While English courses are the first step, donations help fund further skills training like basic computer literacy. The Salvation Army also engages domestic workers through recreational activities like singing, games, and crafts. This facilitates cultural exchange between local and migrant communities. Donations also support the residential care program that provides shelter for domestic workers facing crises. Overall, the Salvation Army offers holistic empowerment.

A group of foreign domestic workers holding hands around a donation box raise fund for free English lessons

How Readers Can Help Helper To Become Better?

In conclusion, we all know that communication is key as everyday English can benefit everyone. Providing opportunities to improve language skills, first aid knowledge, and practical abilities will benefit helpers and enhance the quality of life in the home. Effective communication, safety awareness, and additional skills facilitate positive, fulfilling experiences for domestic helpers and their employers. Supporting helpers’ personal and professional growth through engagement, understanding their needs, and enabling their aspirations will nurture a harmonious environment under one roof. The key is to remember that language abilities enable communication, first aid and CPR skills enhance safety, conversational English improves daily interactions, practical skills empower helpers, cultural sensitivity promotes harmony, and specialised courses address specific needs. Employers can ensure helpers are well-equipped to handle responsibilities and mutually benefit the household by investing in domestic helpers’ growth and development.

The Salvation Army uplifts thousands of vulnerable migrant domestic workers through skills training and social integration. Readers can help continue and expand their empowering work for migrant communities by donating to their programs through their website https://www.salvationarmy.org.sg/wwd-sojourn/, volunteering to teach or assist with their English and digital skills classes, spreading awareness by sharing this article on social media or contacting them at sojourn@smm.salvationarmy.org to explore other ways to get involved. Support their empowering work for migrant communities today!