The Welcoming Languages project explores the inclusion of a ‘refugee language’ in Scottish education as a way to enact the idea of ‘integration as a two-way process’ that is at the heart of the “New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy” (Scottish Government, 2018). We do this, by offering a tailored (Levantine) Arabic language course for total beginners to education staff in Scottish primary schools.
The Welcoming Languages project believes that, by learning some simple language useful in a school setting, education staff can make Arabic speaking children and parents/carer feel welcome, to see that their language is valued and that education staff are willing to make the effort to move ‘towards’ them.
We aim, through this project, to show that it is possible to make space in Scottish education for the many languages that New Scots bring with them and to give a space in Scottish schools to a greater number of languages that include those of the people who chose Scotland as their new home.
As the PI and Co-I of the Welcoming Languages project, we support the UNESCO-RILA Chair’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire.
Giovanna Fassetta and Maria Grazia Imperiale
The Welcoming Languages project is based at the University of Glasgow (School of Education). This collaborative project is carried out by an international team, based at the University of Glasgow and at the Arabic Center of the Islamic University of Gaza (Palestine). The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Ref n. A H /W0 0 6 0 3 0 / 1).
The UofG team collects the language needs of Scottish educators and Arabic speaking families and oversees the development of the project in Scotland, including evidencing the learning and its effects on Arabic speaking New Scots.
The Arabic Center team works on adapting the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP) language course for beginners, so that the course can better respond to the language needs of Scottish education staff and Arabic speaking parents/carers and families. They are also responsible for the delivery of the Arabic course and for adapting the content according to ongoing feedback.