Here we are again! We have gathered for a new project ‘Welcoming Languages: Refugee Languages in Scottish Education’. We are getting back to using the space of the virtual realities and dealing with different smiley screens of all shapes and types to connect and collaborate with our team in Gaza, Palestine to contribute to knowledge, maintain relations and build on our previous successful collaborations.
It all started with developing an online Arabic course for beginners, the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP). The course was co-designed and co-developed by experts in both University of Glasgow, UK, and the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine. Then we gathered again to improve OAfP teachers’ guide and train teachers from Gaza to teach the course online. Now, we want to adapt the materials of this course to meet new needs! And here comes out the new project, Welcoming Languages.
Welcoming languages project aims at including a refugee language in Scottish education. This project would be an application of the promise and a proof of concept of “integrations as a two-way process” noted in the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy (Scottish Government, 2018). We believe that integration could be facilitated by learning and teaching the home languages of the new Scots. To explore the feasibility of including a refugee language, both benefits and challenges to do so, we are starting with Arabic, the language spoken by the largest number of refugees in Scotland. We will build on and adapt OPAC materials and teach them online to 12 educators in Scotland (teachers, head-teachers, secretarial staff, classroom assistants). The materials will be tailored to this new context and personalised to meet the needs of these educators situated in their local schools.
We hope this would be the first step towards embracing refugees’ home languages and maintaining their “linguistic capitals”, viewing their languages as a resource to learn a new language and to integrate with the new society rather than a barrier.
So, keep an eye on this blog for more coming updates!