Refugees


Refugees

Could refugees help to solve the post Brexit language skills deficit?

8 May 2019 (Forbes)

Brexit unquestionably demands that Britain builds its linguistic prowess in order to maintain present levels of international trade and cooperation. As an island of monoglots, losing the wealth of language skills and cultural knowledge currently possessed by our EU citizens as they predictably abandon or avoid our country in future is likely to make us poorer in both monetary and non-monetary terms.

Recruiters already predict that finding candidates with the language skills necessary to conduct business with the EU, our largest trading partner, will be more difficult after Brexit. Britain's dire lack of European language skills is so acute that the government was recently unable to accurately translate its own Brexit proposal into German.

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Online Arabic from Palestine - course launch

2 October 2018 (University of Glasgow)

University of Glasgow, in partnership with Islamic University of Gaza, has launched an new course, 'Online Arabic from Palestine for beginners'. 

The course will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn, or promote the learning of, Modern Standard Arabic with a Palestinian ‘flavour’ for work, to communicate with Arabic speaking ‘new Scots’, for linguistic solidarity with the people of Palestine, or simply for the pleasure of learning such an important language.

The Online Arabic from Palestine course will be taught by trained and experienced teachers based at the Arabic Center (Islamic University of Gaza) and will make use of bespoke interactive materials created over the past year by an international team of language experts.  Please see the IUG Arabic Centre website for course details and registration.

The Online Arabic from Palestine course is the result of an international and multilingual project (OPAC) run over the past 12 months by a team based in the University of Glasgow School of Education (PI Dr Giovanna Fassetta) and the Gaza Strip (Palestine). The international team has worked in close collaboration to design and develop an online Arabic course for beginners, through the combined efforts of academics, teachers, administrators, IT experts, videographers and graphic designers.

Please note there is a cost to take part in this course. However, research outputs are freely available from University of Glasgow website.

For the past 10 years, the Gaza Strip has been under blockade. The blockade has resulted in very high unemployment, especially among young graduates, and in forced cultural and linguistic homogeneity. The aim behind the course was to create opportunities for multilingual, intercultural and professional collaboration between graduates of the Islamic University of Gaza and a team of foreign language teaching experts based at the University of Glasgow.

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EAL: Working with new arrivals

12 September 2018 (SecEd)

This September, many secondary schools will have new arrivals from abroad who have English as an additional language. Continuing our series on EAL, Dr Ruth Wilson gives some practical advice for you and your schools in meeting the needs of this diverse group of learners

New arrivals with English as an additional language (EAL) are a very diverse group. Their language proficiency can range from “new to English” to “fluent”. The young person can arrive at any age and with widely different socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Some students may come from an advantaged context with a high standard of education; others may have had little or interrupted schooling or experienced traumatic events. A new arrival could for example be a refugee from a war-torn country or a child of a German banker working in the City of London.

Data show that, on average, pupils arriving late into the English school system do less well in external exams than their first language English peers, and that the older the pupils are when they arrive the less likely they are to achieve good results in year 11 (Hutchinson, 2018).

This article gives some practical advice for you and your schools in meeting the needs of EAL learners who are newly arrived from abroad. 

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School where refugees are the teachers

1 August 2018 (BBC)

Teaching his native Arabic to students online has been a game changer for Syrian refugee Sami as he makes a fresh start in the UK.

The Aleppo University engineering graduate says that working for an online language learning platform in London has helped him find his feet and motivation as he begins life anew.

The tutors at the start-up firm Chatterbox are all refugees and their work helps them to integrate and adapt to their new surroundings.

"I think language is building bridges between people, because the language is not only in the language itself, the speaking or the words, it's also the culture," said the 35-year-old refugee, who arrived in the UK about two years ago.

The school is the brainchild of Mursal Hedayat, who came up with the idea during a trip to refugee camps in Calais in the summer of 2016.

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Supporting your EAL learners

6 June 2018 (SecEd)

In a new series focused on supporting pupils with English as an additional language, Nic Kidston and Katherine Solomon discuss how schools can learn more about who their EAL learners are and how they can be empowered and supported to fulfil their potential

This article, the first in a series of articles on supporting EAL learners that will appear in the coming year, examines the recent research report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI), with the Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy – entitled Educational Outcomes of Children with English as an Additional Language.

The series will provide insights into, and best practice on, how to support individual learners through a whole school approach.

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#LanguageforResilience exhibition

29 March 2018 (British Council)

Discover how language can help refugees deal with loss, displacement and trauma in our #LanguageForResilience exhibition. Visit in person if you’re in London or check out the virtual exhibition online.

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Online learning event: Welcoming refugee and migrant children to mainstream classrooms in Europe

27 March 2018 (British Council eTwinning)

Aimed at teachers of primary and secondary learners aged 4-16, this eTwinning workshop will develop teachers' awareness, confidence and skills in learning about refugee issues, welcoming refugee and migrant children to mainstream classrooms from a social and emotional perspective, and will give a basic introduction to language acquisition and the importance of maintaining and developing mother tongue and home culture.

Visit the website to sign up for the course between 9 - 17 April 2018.

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Pupils celebrate success at multilingual poetry competition

9 March 2017 (Renfrewshire 24)

Six bilingual pupils from Renfrewshire have scooped up awards at a national poetry competition for their creative writing talents.

Of the 14 awards up for grabs through the ‘Mother Tongue Other Tongue’ competition run by SCILT – Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, six were awarded to pupils from St John Ogilvie Primary School, St James Primary School and Castlehead High School, who had written poetry in their native tongue in order to share their “other voices”.

Renfrewshire EAL (English as an additional language) teachers helped support bilingual pupils to create a collection of poems written in languages such as; Polish, Hungarian, Chinese, Punjabi, Catalan, Arabic, Greek, Filipino, Korean and Dutch.

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Teacher Volunteers Wanted

1 February 2017 (NUS Scotland)

The Scottish Migrant Institute has been set up as a teaching hub to provide training and education to the asylum seeker, refugee and migrant community. These evening and weekend classes, hosted at the University of Strathclyde, offer a range of subjects to adults who want to learn in their spare time. They are currently recruiting volunteers to teach French and Spanish – this would be an ideal opportunity for ML teachers or students who have some spare time to commit.

For more information please contact Lord Apetsi, NUS Scotland Asylum Seeker & Refugee Officer. An information event will be held at the University of Strathclyde in March/April (date to be confirmed).

Refugee Exhibition

26 January 2017 (University of Edinburgh)

Let your senior phase students see a meaningful context in which German is spoken and meet the students who ran the integration project working with refugees in Germany.

The principal aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness, hopefully inspire similar projects and increase learner motivation for those who often don´t see the relevance of learning a language.

The photo exhibition will be open from March until the end of May. Interested schools can arrange to either:
  1. come and see the exhibition at the University of Edinburgh and meet some of the students involved
  2. see the exhibition and have some workshops about the refugee crisis
  3. request photos of the exhibition, the power point presentation and the film clip for those who are too remote to come to Edinburgh

Please email Annette Gotzkes in the first instance to discuss your preferred option.

Further information about the project can also be found on the University of Edinburgh website.

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Meet The Refugees Taking On The UK’s Language Skills Deficit

1 January 2017 (Huffington Post)

What do a dentist, a human rights lawyer and a maths teacher have in common?

Certainly, they’re all qualified professionals. What you might not guess - blog title aside - is that they have all sought, and found, refuge in the UK in the last few years. They fled from Syria, Sudan and North Korea respectively. None of them have (yet) been able to practise their professions here, but that hasn’t stopped them helping the Brits in need of their skills. They all now work for a new tech for good startup, through which they share their native language and culture - online and in person - with people in the UK.

The startup is called Chatterbox. By training and employing refugees ​as language tutors, the venture catalyses refugee integration into the UK labour market whilst tackling the country’s language skills deficit.

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Related Links

Want to learn Arabic, Korean or Swahili? Refugee language tutors can help (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 16 January 2017)

The carefully worded welcome

18 November 2016 (TESS)

Imagine being the leader of a local authority and being told that you suddenly need to deal with an influx of 100,000 men, women and children into your city, and that most of them will not be able to speak the local language.

Now imagine you are in charge of education provision in that city and you need to integrate a large number of these children into your education system. What would you do? How would you best meet the needs of these children while continuing to maintain a high standard of education for the children currently in your schools?

This was the challenge facing Berlin City Council last year. In Britain, we looked on as refugees fleeing Syria and other war-ravaged countries arrived in Germany to open arms, yet we never fully gained an insight into how they were integrated into German society.

Last summer, I travelled to Berlin as part of an Erasmus+ scheme to find out. There I met Gudrun Schreier, whose job it is to oversee the integration of thousands of refugee children into the city’s education system.

How Schreier and her team approached their task should be of interest to schools everywhere – it is a task many of us will soon have to undertake, too.

Schreier was guided by the overall approach of the council. The underlying principle it adopted was Sprache als Schlüssel zur Integration (language as the key to integration). In a school setting, this took the form of Willkommensklassen (welcome classes).

Willkommensklassen are special classes within a school, made up purely of nonnative speaking children who initially have little or no knowledge of German. They are situated within mainstream schools, with language acquisition being their principal function.

The goal of the Willkommensklassen is that within six to 12 months, 90 per cent of the children will have obtained a high enough standard of German to be able to transfer to a Regelklasse (mainstream class).

The full article can be accessed in TESS online, 18 November 2016 (subscription required).

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Can learning languages help refugees cope?

21 July 2016 (British Council Voices)

Marie Delaney, co-author of a new British Council report called Language for Resilience, explains how language learning has helped refugees cope with their situations.

Find out more on the British Council website.

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Robots teach Germany's refugees a foreign language

2 April 2016 (Deutsche-Welle)

Fancy learning a new language from a robot? As Europe struggles to integrate the largest influx of refugees since the end of WWII, scientists have designed a robot that can interact with children learning German.

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Learning English is child's play, thanks to Paisley teacher Ruth

22 March 2016 (Paisley Daily Express)

More than 500 children from all over the world are being helped to speak English fluently by a remarkable council project.

Young people, many from Eastern Europe and some newly-arrived refugees from Syria, are getting to grips with the tongue as it is spoken in Scotland, thanks to Renfrewshire Council’s English as an Additional Language Service.

And not only that – they are also being encouraged to keep in touch with their own native language through literature.

Supporting the primary-age children in the scheme is teacher Ruth Cunningham, who herself speaks fluent Spanish.

As revealed in the Paisley Daily Express, three of Ms Cunningham’s pupils – variously from Norway, Hungary and Lithuania – recently had great success in a poetry competition organised by Scotland’s National Centre for Languages. (Also see the attached, related article courtesy of the Paisley Daily Express).

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Berlin’s Museum Tours in Arabic Forge a Bridge to Refugees

28 February 2016 (New York Times)

BERLIN — The Pergamon Museum is home to the famous Ishtar Gate, a monument of blue and white tile decorated with golden lions and daisies that was once the entrance to ancient Babylon. When Kamal Alramadhani, a 25-year-old Iraqi economics student, saw it for the first time this month, “I got goose bumps,” he said, pointing to his arm.

“It’s from Iraq,” he added quietly, through an Arabic translator. “My country.” A native of Mosul, Mr. Alramadhani studied economics at the University of Baghdad and came to Germany in October, part of a wave of asylum seekers that is stirring opposition here but also leading the government to look for ways to help the migrants adjust.

That afternoon, Mr. Alramadhani and about 30 others — some of them teenagers who had walked much of the way from Syria — were visiting the museum for the first time, on a free Arabic-language tour. It is part of a new and growing state-financed program to introduce the refugees to Germany’s cultural heritage — even, of course, when some of that heritage comes from the Middle East.

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