Judy Barnett calls it the melting pot - the first floor of the Mayfield's Ironworkers Building where migrants from 30 countries come together to study English.
Some, like 20-year-old Syrian Bayan Abdulilah Qanso already have an intermediate grasp of the language thanks to prior study.
Others like Tibetan monk Tenzin Dhonyoe are just starting out.
With the help of their teachers and interpreters, students support and encourage each other as they work to master the language skills that will help them to establish themselves in Australia.
"It's more like a big family than a classroom; everyone supports each other," Ms Barnett, employment manager at MAX Solutions' Mayfield local adult migrant English program, said.
Tenzin and Bayan, both humanitarian refugees, arrived in Australia about six months ago.
Despite the added challenges of COVID both are thriving in their new home.
At the age of 26 Tenzin was imprisoned by the Chinese government for six years inside Tibet because of his religious beliefs.
He also suffered multiple leg injuries, which have required surgery, as a result of his persecution.
"He was worried before coming to Australia because he thought because he didn't have family and friends it might be difficult. But since arriving everyone has treated him like family and everything is so good," an interpreter said on Bayan's behalf.
He eventually hopes to work in the community and disability sector but for the moment his main focus is learning English.
"He used to live in a monastery so he has a habit of reading and writing. He enjoys the study," the interpreter said.
"Even though it is a strange language for him he feels good."
Bayan, who lived in Jordan for about 7 years and completed her schooling to year 11 equivalent, is studying English in the same class as her parents.
"In Jordan you can learn English but you have to speak Arabic," she said.
"Talking with Australian people has helped me improve a lot."
Her goal is to study dentistry or pharmacology.
"My first goal is to get my licence, my second one is to improve my language," she said.
"Maybe I will go to Tafe to become a dental assistant or go to university to do Open Foundation and then study to be a dentist or pharmacist."
One of the keys to the students' progress is the face-to-face learning environment.
"They can watch your gestures and body language and face so that they get the right pronunciation and things like that," Ms Barnett said.
But that method has been severely disrupted over the past six months. Many students dropped out while others struggled with digital and printed resources as they continued their study at home.
The last month has seen student numbers at about 130, compared to 200 before the pandemic hit.
An unexpected upside has been the increase in students who had previously withdrawn from their studies because they had found employment.
"We thought we are going to be out of a job here soon but we are just getting different people coming to inquire about the program," Ms Barnett said.
"We have a lot of people who have been displaced from work who are looking to resume their classes."
"Some are spouses of Australians. It's all types of people with different migration status."
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