“Language(s) for Resilience”: Inclusive responses to language needs for refugees in the Syria crises

Panel leader: Mike Solly, British Council

Our Panel presentations will be centred around the educational and societal effects of the refugee crises in Syria on the refugees themselves and on the neighbouring countries that are bearing the brunt of the vast move in population across borders.  We will look at how the British Council, in collaboration with other British, local and international partners, have responded to this from an educational perspective.  We will look at some initial research commissioned by the British Council, then focus on the incorporation of inclusive practices in this area, followed by a more detailed look at how inclusion can work in practice on a particular project.

Paper 1: Language for resilience: Understanding the role language plays in enhancing the resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities

Mike Solly

There are over 4.5 million refugees from Syria now living as refugees in neighbouring countries.  Many of these refugees are children or young people who have effectively been forcibly excluded from education at a crucial time, in terms, for many, of language development, or for others, of learning skills for entry to work.    The languages needed in the host countries vary, but in all cases lack of particular languages (and in all cases English is one of the key languages) can increase the vulnerability of refugees.  In addition the influx of refugees on the education systems of these countries can also create a great strain on host communities often already under stress.  I will present some research commissioned by the British Council to look into this issue by interviewing key stakeholders on the ground in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.  I will introduce the 5 key themes that emerged from this research that is now forming a key pillar in education and development work in the region and possibly beyond.

Mike Solly. Since last October Mike has been Senior Advisor in English Language at the British Council, with a particular interest in the role of English (and other languages) in areas of development and conflict.  Prior to this he was Senior Lecturer in Education at the Open University, where he was Director of the large scale TESSA programme (Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa).  He was also a key member of the management and delivery team on the award- winning EIA (English in Action) teacher training programme in Bangladesh that uses SD cards on mobile phones to deliver authentically based teacher training material.   Mike also worked for many years as a teacher/trainer in various regions including the Middle East and the Balkans.

Paper 2: Understanding education and migration through a broad inclusive practices approach.

Phil Dexter

The inclusion of children and young people into formal or informal education systems is an entitlement and a fundamental human right and inclusive practices is a ‘golden thread’ that runs through the agreed 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.  I will discuss what this means in terms of our needs to respond to the Syrian crisis and the impact on learning I will focus of the importance of how we can ensure both access (removing barriers to education) and engagement (meaning participation in education) through an inclusive practice collaborative approach that can meet the needs of all young people based on their learning needs. I will also suggest an approach that the British Council is contributing to supporting the professional development of teachers working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Northern Iraq and Turkey.

View the presentation slides on Slideshare

Phil Dexter is the British Council UK English language Teacher Development Adviser and previously worked in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and Libya on a range of English language teaching projects. Phil’s responsibility involves development of courses and resources for primary, secondary, special educational needs and approaches to inclusive education.  Phil has a Master’s Degree in English language studies from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and a Diploma in Special Educational Needs. Phil currently manages resources development for the Teaching for Success CPD Framework approach including support for teachers working with refugees and displaced people.

Paper 3: Inclusion and access within crisis situation: How can Lebanese multilingual classrooms be inclusive?

Anne Wiseman

I will examine some of the issues around delivering education in both a multilingual and crisis context in Lebanon. The Lebanese education system has expanded by one third in just less than 3 years, and the influx of Syrian refugee children into the classrooms has presented challenges for both students and teachers: Syrian children are often marginalised not only due to cultural differences but also because of language differences.

Lebanese teachers now have to adjust their teaching strategies accordingly to work within a multilingual classroom. I will discuss how teachers have coped with the influx of Syrian refugee children into the classes by taking a multilingual approach to language teaching. This in turn can help to close the gap between the Syrian and Lebanese children, and has implications for developing strategies for teaching within similar conflict/crisis situations.

View the presentation slides on Slideshare

Anne Wiseman is currently the Manager for an EU funded project – ‘Accessing Education: Language Integration for Syrian Refugee Children’. Anne taught English in UK mainstream schools and later moved to teaching EFL abroad. She then moved in to wider regional roles leading English programmes for the British Council in the Middle East and in Europe. Anne has an MA in Applied Linguistics and is currently undertaking a doctorate researching the long term impact of education projects. Anne’s key research interests are in qualitative evaluation, using personal histories in research, and the long term impact of intervention projects. She has written and edited English course books for Ministries of Education in Hong Kong, China and Bulgaria.