Facing the Language Barrier – a Refugee’s story

“I’ve come a long way from Syria to Northern Ireland. When we reached Northern Ireland, we had so many barriers and challenges to start a new life, with a new world and different environment. My first worry was about the lack of ability to speak the country’s language which is English.

 When we came here first no one of my family members was able to speak and communicate in English. We found it very hard, especially me as I wasn’t able to enjoy my social life as I was in Syria where I used to have an enjoyable environment with family and friends. Here because of the English unknowledge I wasn’t able to communicate and make new friends even I wasn’t able to speak with my neighbours.

My family and I wished to have access to a beginner English programme before coming to Northern Ireland. We believed that this would help us to settle in, as unfortunately our first language isn’t English.

 On the other hand, not knowing the language also meant that I’ve found difficulties to complete the essential parts of the life, such as shopping, dealing with letters, appointments and communicating with doctors and many more things. I found it really hard as I couldn’t ask, and I wasn’t able to understand at all.

 I was very happy when I’ve heard first about the online English language course, and I hurried to join it. After a while, I found the online English course helpful because it teaches me about how to be able to communicate and speak English in life. It was easy to follow the course as I can sit at my house while I’m enjoying the class.

 I would like to thank everyone who worked hard to bring us this brilliant English course, and many thanks to the government to allow for this opportunity which will help me to change my life.” – Samia (Syrian Refugee)

Unfortunately, Samia’s story is not unique. According to the UN Refugee Agency figures from June 2018, an unprecedented 68.5 million people are currently displaced from their homes. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

For the refugees and migrants that have managed to safely start a new life elsewhere, they face many issues and challenges trying to integrate themselves into their new society.

These challenges can range from legal complications to comprehending complex transport systems or finding somewhere to live. Despite all of these obstacles, one of the biggest challenges they will encounter will be the fact that they do not speak their new country’s language, which in turn affects many other aspects of life, as Samia notes above.

Despite governments’ efforts to implement various educational programs to support refugees, many of these programs have not been sufficiently tailored to migrants’ needs which impedes the migrants ability to learn and become proficient in their new home’s language. Recent studies have found that a lack of tailor-made language training, and associated job opportunities, are significant barriers to refugee and migrant integration.

The time it takes to become proficient in a language varies depending on the circumstances and the form of tutoring provided. Maximpact’s Fast Track to Employment Programme is provided online and uses an innovative approach to language instruction, which is designed to make refugees and migrants’ language proficient and employment ready within two to five months.

One of the unique aspects of Maximpact’s Refugee programme is the delivery of English language training online, which ensures that even refugees in the most rural areas are able to access the course and learn. The second unique aspect is the programme’s assistance into job placement once the language course is completed.

The precise timetable depends on a student’s existing knowledge of the relevant language and their other skills, but when they are ready they will be helped to find job placements that will provide an income, on-the-job training, and further vocational training if required.

By bridging labour shortage gaps and addressing refugees’ and migrants’ economic integration Maximpact’s programme helps to achieve faster and more cost effective social and job market integration.

Currently, the programmes are funded by government bodies, but we are also looking into receiving funding from private philanthropic organisations and social corporate responsibility programmes.

To find out more and get insight into the projects we have implemented already in the care, retail, hospitality, agriculture and waste management sectors – click here.

You can also get further information from Caroline Kennedy at [email protected].

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