The project aims and objectives
The Welcoming Languages project aims to: include Arabic as a refugee language in Scottish education to enact integration as a two-way process; provide proof of concept for language diversification in education. It pursues these aims starting from education as a context of integration and through the following objectives: (i) adapt the OAfP to the needs of Scottish educators; (ii) teach Arabic online to 12 educators in Scotland; (iii) introduce Arabic in the Scottish educational context; and (iv) draft policy guidelines on the potential of, and approaches to, the introduction of a refugee language in Scottish education.
The project’s rationale
The project focuses on Arabic as one of the main languages spoken by newly arrived asylum seekers and/or refugees (the New Scots) and as the language for which we already designed and developed a beginners’ course that can be tailored to the needs of Scottish educators and Arabic speaking New Scots. The course was a collaborative project between the School of Education (University of Glasgow) and the Arabic Center (Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine) which was completed in 2018. Since then, the course has been successfully taught online to many learners worldwide.
We believe that teaching Scottish educators the languages of the New Scots can have several benefits for New Scots but also for the whole school community: it can allow education staff to meet and greet children and families in their own languages and to learn sentences that will be useful to them for immediate communication needs; it can help teachers to expand their language repertoire and to add language tasters to their everyday classroom routine; it can show children that adults in their school are interested in the languages they bring and want to learn them; it can offer a very practical example to all children, regardless of their linguistic background, that languages are worthy of interest and of being learnt; it can help Scottish education staff reflect on the challenges of learning a new language and to empathise with the experiences of children and parents/carers who are learning English.