MARIE Kamara is a step closer to becoming a registered nurse after completing a health literacy class at Blacktown TAFE College last week.
A refugee from Sierra Leone, Ms Kamara came to Australia in December 2009.
She has since juggled hours of work in an aged care centre in Sydney's eastern suburbs with study.
She will begin a Certificate IV in Aged Care next semester.
"It's not easy, but because it is something I like to do I try to combine them together," she said.
"It's a good course.
"It helped me because we are learning more health words . . . especially if you want to be a nurse in your future it is good to do the course."
Fellow literacy student Kawthar Tutu, originally from Sudan, will begin a Certificate 3 in Aged Care.
Perla Anchamte, for whom Spanish is a first language, has found the course has helped in her work at Blacktown Hospital.
TAFE literacy teacher Janice Evans said the semester-long classes were started about two years ago to service a need for students from non-English-speaking backgrounds who wanted a career in aged care, nursing or other health services.
"It seemed to come up a lot in students' goals that they wanted to do childcare, nursing or physiotherapy," she said.
"We stress to the students that we are not healthcare professionals, we're teaching them literacy with a health care slant.
"Anything about health, sickness, different health occupations, going over the spelling of difficult health words or the names of specialist doctors is quite daunting.
"We just focus on the literacy side of it.
"We have flexible delivery, so often students come or go depending on their work situation.
"The students who do these courses are usually determined to progress."