Tens of thousands of volunteers across Europe who are struggling to teach their language and culture to new refugees and migrants have been offered a lifeline.
At last, free teaching materials adapted to refugees’ special needs have been developed and are being launched online by the Council of Europe at www.coe.int/lang-refugees.
Available from 17 November in seven languages – Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian and Turkish – this comprehensive package of practical support and awareness-raising materials can be adopted by volunteers who have no previous teaching experience. It will enable refugees arriving in Europe to deal with basic everyday situations, like visiting a doctor, using public transport and filling out forms.
The Council of Europe is responding to a growing call for help from organisations that provide language support for migrants, which frequently rely on help from volunteers, who may have no teaching experience. The true scale of the problem is not known because many small centres and classes are being set up on an ad hoc, immediate needs basis. The overall number of volunteers set to benefit is thought to run into tens of thousands and the number may well be much higher.
The toolkit will be presented in detail at a Council of Europe event in Strasbourg (22-23 November) bringing together over 70 of Europe’s most active associations and groups, who are coping with the day-to-day realities of migrants’ linguistic integration. They will be joined by the Organisation’s Special Representative on Migration and Refugees and representatives of the European Commission, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and regional and national authorities.
The toolkit is part of the Council of Europe’s long-standing Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants programme.