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World Refugee Day highlights need for better language programmes

Today, the globe celebrates World Refugee Day which aims to recognise the challenges refugees face, promoting the need for every refugee child to have access to an education and every adult to be given the chance to work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to society. In the UK, Refugee Week (19-25th June) will celebrate the contribution of refugees and encourage a better understanding between communities.

Following the EU’s external border force Frontext estimating that more than 1.8m crossed the European border in 2015 alone, the cultural integration of migrants seeking refuge has been widely discussed and reported on. In fact, last year, the University of Sussex conducted research indicating that not enough is being done to help individuals settle in the UK, with a lack of language learning being a key factor.

“The cultural integration of refugees is a very real issue in Europe right now, and language is key, said Panos Kraniotis, regional director, Europe, Rosetta Stone. “Arriving in the UK solves an immediate problem, but settling and planning a future is a different matter. Each migrant has different communication skills and needs; what they have in common, however, is that they all want to rebuild their lives. Learning the local language is essential in opening up opportunities, achieving independence and engaging with the rest of the community.

Kraniotis continued: “One of the biggest problems is that with such high volumes of migration, it can be a challenge to provide effective access to language education. Refugee Centres are key. Providing language training that includes both classroom instruction and computer-based learning, these programmes do an excellent job of encouraging learners to participate through a high level of interactivity and simulations of everyday interactions.

“Schools are also being tasked with the responsibility of teaching languages to immigrant students, however, while they have previously needed to support small groups of students, they are now faced with managing a large number of native languages. Such expanding and diverse needs are, unsurprisingly, putting a strain on school systems. By utilising technology, learning can be tailored to meet the needs of each individual learner – an essential factor given the varying needs of both adults and children arriving in the UK. “As nations continue to grapple with the challenge of supporting refugees and helping them realise their full potential, the importance of effective, scalable language tuition cannot be underestimated. By equipping refugees with a voice to communicate across language barriers, individuals have a much better chance of integrating and contributing positively to their community,” concluded Kraniotis.

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