The Welcoming Languages project pilot project has now reached the evaluation and dissemination stage. Our international Glasgow-Gaza team has been hard at work, and we have prepared a final report with recommendations and a report for children (in English and Arabic). All reports are available here.
Scottish educators (among them a headteacher, class teachers, EAL teachers, family support staff, clerical staff, etc.) in 4 Glasgow schools completed a 20 hour beginner Arabic course. The course was designed around the language needs the staff had highlighted at the needs analysis stage. It also took on board the needs identified by the Arabic speaking children and parents/carers. Read more on the needs analysis here (full article coming soon).
Below you see one of the Scottish educators introducing herself at the end of the course:
When we met with staff at the end of the project, all the 19 participants were extremely positive about the project’s practical and symbolic consequences on both children and their parents/carers. For example a class teacher told us:
“It’s been good to have like basic commands, to say to the children ‘Let’s draw’, ‘Let’s write’, ‘Stand up/Sit down’, ‘Listen’… and for them… they value the fact that we’ve been learning Arabic [inaudible] and we’re saying something new to them, like ‘Marhaba’ or ‘Saba al kahir’, you know, and they are looking at you like ‘Ah! I can’t believe you’re learning Arabic’… to see the smile on their faces when they hear Arabic”
Some teachers also considered the effects that taking the course had on their awareness of the challenges the children and families experience and, as a consequence, also on their practice, as this EAL teacher told us:
“It’s been really nice just to have a little bit of commonality, and and also it’s allowed me to kind of build an awareness of how difficult it must be for the children who come to Scotland and don’t have English. And actually when… when the shoe’s on the other foot and you’re learning a new language that you know nothing about, it’s really, really difficult. So it’s kind of made me reflect a little bit on my teaching”
The children were very positive about the experience too. They became the experts and were able to help staff in their schools practice their Arabic. Some of the children even created extra homework for staff, and took great pleasure in knowing that staff were taking an interest in the language they speak. You can hear some of the children’s feedback here (scroll down for audio clips).
The WLs team have also been busy making sure that the project’s outcomes reach as wide an audience as possible. On the 13th of December 2022 the team organised an event at the ARC (UofG) during which the final report was presented. Check out the news item here and the video of the event below:
On the 2nd of February 2023 the Welcoming Languages project international team was hosted at the Scottish Parliament by Kaukab Stewart (MSP for Glasgow Kelvin) to hold an information session for MSPs. During the event, MSPs showed great interest in the project and expressed their full support for it.
We are really proud of what we achieve so far, and we are already planning ways in which we can take this forward in the future!