Learning the language of the host country is beneficial for refugee communities because it helps integration (Strang and Ager, 2010), opens employment opportunities, supports mental and physical health (Cheung and Phillimore, 2017) and enables refugees to engage with services in the community (Carson, 2008). English classes are offered to refugees in the UK however this blog investigates how educational apps, such as FlashAcademy®, can help supplement these classes.
ESOL classes seem to be particularly successful for young, well-educated, male refugees (Beiser 2009). This may be due to the accessibility of classes for speakers. Looking after children was cited as a reason for not being able to attend English classes, a reason that will likely disproportionately affect women in the community as many female Syrian refugees (Ćatibušić et al., 2019). An app allows learners to learn at a time and place which suits them.
Similarly, older refugees felt unable to understand the teacher and requested a teacher who spoke Arabic (Ćatibušić et al., 2019). FlashAcademy® provides Arabic to English translation with Arabic audio to support refugees with low literacy.
Another benefit of educational apps is each learner can tailor their learning journey to their needs and interests. Refugees with low levels of education can learn the relationship between sounds and writing through FlashAcademy®’s phonics lessons. The Letters & Numbers lessons allow learners to practise writing the Latin script.
Learners also enjoy working to their own pace and studying subjects which they enjoy and find useful (Ćatibušić et al., 2019). FlashAcademy®’s flexible learning pathway allows learners to learn vocabulary which they enjoy. This flexibility includes learning vocabulary for employment opportunities. Find out more information about FlashAcademy®’s Workplace app here.
Many refugee adults had anxiety around speaking English (Court, 2017). However, FlashAcademy®’s speech analysis allows learners to practise pronunciation outside the pressures of the classroom to help build confidence. Educational apps create additional practise outside the classroom which learners can deploy different learning strategies to.
Mother tongue maintenance
For displaced people, retaining their mother tongue ensures the community connection. Syrian parents in Ireland were concerned that their children were losing their mother tongue, Arabic (Ćatibušić et al., 2019). FlashAcademy® supports mother tongue maintenance through Arabic translations, even if curriculum content, which is frequently a source of unbalanced bilingualism for EAL pupils. Read this article for more information on the importance of protecting home languages.
FlashAcademy® were recently awarded a breakthrough grant from Birmingham Local Authority to support Syrian families resettled in the Midlands. Schools in Birmingham supporting Syrian pupils should reach out and see how the team can provide funding support via this new grant. For more information, please contact our Midlands Education Director, Matt Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07463 049363.