27 Jan 2014

IH London training and support for Student Action For Refugees

STAR support

IH London continue to provide practical support to Student Action For Refugees (STAR) who run English Conversion clubs to help refugees throughout the UK develop their English.

Student Action For Refugees (STAR) is a national charity which organises student groups across the UK who volunteer at local refugee projects, it campaigns to improve the lives of refugees, educate people about refugees and asylum seekers and raise funds to support activities to welcome refugees to the UK.

Teacher trainers from IH London have been working with STAR staff and volunteers since 2012, helping them deliver English Conversation Clubs and English lessons to refugees and asylum seekers across the UK.

The English Conversation Clubs provide refugees and asylum seekers with an informal environment in which they can improve their communication and conversational skills.

The ability to speak and understand English is central to improving the lives of refugees in the UK. 

English language skills essential to refugees

Building a new life as a refugee in the UK is a long and difficult process. Housing, finance and health may be among the top priorities for those granted refugee status, but English language skills are a central part of improving all aspects of life for refugees in the UK.

In 2012, researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Birmingham English, commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation, looked at the needs of refugees and the factors that have most impact on the quality of life of refugees.

They found that accessing health, education and social services, employment, housing are all part of the means to a better quality of life for refugees, with language fluency acting as a facilitator for all of these essential needs.

A perfect partnership

The partnership between STAR and IH London aims to help refugees and asylum seekers develop the language skills they need to enable them to access essential services and adapt to life in the UK. Language teacher trainers from IH London have been working with the charity’s volunteers to help them deliver affective English language support.

In 2013, our teacher trainers provided STAR staff and volunteers with ice breaking methods for participants, teaching materials, exercises and games to expand and develop their vocabulary as well as providing lessons plans and teaching tips to pass on to new volunteers.

Clare Webster, Assistant Director of Teacher Training at IH London said: “English Conversation Clubs provide a relaxed and supportive learning space for new arrivals to the UK, and those granted refugee status, to practise English and socialise”.

Flexible, responsive but structured 

She went on to say that the skills needed to facilitate Conversation Clubs are very different from a classroom environment: “Volunteers at the clubs need to be flexible and responsive to work in an informal environment, but they also need to ensure that the sessions are structured in a way that helps those participating develop and improve their language skills”.

STAR logo

Feedback on the IH London training sessions from STAR volunteers has been overwhelming positive, with volunteers from a STAR group in Leeds telling us: “We implemented some of the structures we talked about (in the training sessions)  and I’d say it was our most successful class yet!”

STAR volunteers have access to teaching materials and lesson plans learning environment website which is coordinated by International House London and training sessions will continue throughout 2014.

International House Educational Trust

IH London is a not for profit Educational Trust. We are not accountable to shareholders or driven by profits. Any profits, or surplus, we make go towards promoting better education for all in language learning and teacher training.

We work with a number of charities, including Crisis and the Hackney Migrants Centre, offering practical support to organisations working with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who have limited English language skills.

Our experienced language teachers and trainers offer help people in vulnerable circumstances develop language and life skills.

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