Report by Rose Codner, RefuLingua Project Manager
To date we have provided teacher training for twelve wonderful tutors who hail from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan and who each bring their own particular experience and knowledge of the Arabic language to share. Most of the tutors face multiple barriers to employment, so joining up with RefuLingua is an important step towards integration and ultimately towards further employment. We work alongside them to provide training and support as they begin their teaching journeys.
Alongside the tutors, we have signed up our first cohort of Arabic learners – an enterprising bunch who have forged their way through the first five classes of the specially created RefuLingua syllabus, created by our brilliant education consultant, Ayaat – herself a refugee living in Bristol. We hope that by now they all feel confident to introduce themselves, order a coffee with one sugar, and maybe even know what day of the week it is (in Arabic!).
Feedback from both the students and tutors has been positive. Tutors have expressed that it's really nice to have a way to practise their English, get to know English people and importantly, to feel that they have something to give back. Meanwhile the vast majority of learners who initially signed up for five classes, have gone on to sign up for five more. We are really pleased about this, and really proud of both our tutors and our learners for giving it a go!
For the future, much depends on funding, but we've got big ideas. We're hoping to expand to group classes for different levels of Arabic language learning, but also perhaps further down the line to offer other community languages – Somali, Amharic or Kurdish anyone? The aim is always to give our refugee brothers and sisters a step towards employment, and in the process we hope everybody makes friends and feels a little bit more that they belong together.
For more information about the project, or to sign up for Arabic lessons, please see the RefuLingua page. We are currently welcoming registrations from new students, so if you'd like to learn please do get in touch asap.
The RefuLingua pilot project is funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation. We would like to express our thanks to them for enabling us to develop this exciting initiative.