Students help refugees with community integration

Press Office
English dictionaries by Alborzagros }

Students from the University's Department of English Language & Linguistics (ELL) are teaching English to refugees to help them settle into local communities.

The refugees, who are aged between 16-18 years old, arrived in the UK unaccompanied by adults in the last six months from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan. Many of these refugees have in the past had limited access to education and the opportunity provided by the University and Kent Refugee Action Network allows them to develop their English language skills.

Initiated and supervised by Dr Gloria Chamorro, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics in ELL, and Jane Short, Senior Lecturer in English Language in the Centre for English and World Languages (CEWL), the project involves six students from ELL teaching English to a group of twelve refugees for two hours a week.

The refugees first undertake a placement test to assess their proficiency level and during the classes practice listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. They also learn vocabulary, spelling, sentence structures, pronunciation and other skills to assist them with their language needs and communication.

Dr Chamorro described the lessons as “truly valuable” as they help refugees integrate into their communities and access mainstream education; they also allow students at the University to gain useful teaching experience for the future.

The lessons will run until 16 December and due to its success will start again on 16 January 2017 with a larger group of refugees and students.

The initiative utilises the Erasmus+ Online Linguistics Support programme, which has recently become available for refugees and aims to help 100,000 refugees over the next three years learn a new language.

This project follows last summer’s successful collaboration between the Kent Refugee Action Network  and CEWL, which saw 17 young refugees attending free English classes on the CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching for Adults).