RefuLingua - Arabic Tutoring Project


Refulingua is a grass roots language project that enables refugees to take a step forwards towards employment by tutoring people in conversational Arabic.  


Autumn 2019 Classes - NOW OPEN FOR REGISTRATION!

We are very pleased to announce the new Arabic classes for Autumn term 2019! Classes are informal in style and taught by volunteers who have been with the project for the past year. The cost is £80 for a 10 week term and there should be no more than 8 students in a class.

 Thursdays 6.15 - 7.15pm 

Easton Family Centre (Stapleton Road, BS5 0SQ)

Beginner level reading and writing. 

Every week for 10 weeks, starting Thursday 3rd October. 

This is a beginner class that aims for students to learn the basics of reading and writing in the Arabic script. This will be taught by Etimaad: she is an experienced Arabic teacher from Sudan who is new in Bristol.

Thursday 6.15 - 7.15pm 

Easton Family Centre (Stapleton Road, BS5 0SQ)

Beginner level speaking, Levantine dialect. 

Every week for 10 weeks, starting Thursday 3rd October. 

This class will cover the basics of greetings, introducing yourself, friends or family members. This will be taught by Ayman who worked with heavy machinery in Syria but now loves to teach his language to English people in Bristol. 

Sunday 2pm -3pm 

Upstairs at Dom's coffee house (BS1 4UL)

Beginner level speaking: Levantine dialect. 

Every week for 10 weeks starting Sunday 6th October. 

This class will cover the basics of greetings, introducing yourself, friends or family members. This will be taught by Walima who has volunteered with the program for the past six months. She is from Syria and we think she is an excellent teacher!

Sunday 3 - 4pm

Upstairs room at Dom's coffee house (BS1 4UL)

Beginner plus speaking, Levantine dialect

Every week for 10 weeks starting Sunday 6th October

This is for students who are not total beginners but are not intermediate either. Topics will include going to cafes/ shops, extended family, directions, describing places, making a plan, food, among others. This will be taught be Wala who has volunteered with the program for the past six months and hopes to work in future as an Arabic teacher in the UK. 

1-1 learning:

If none of the classes listed above suit you, we hope we will be able to match you with a tutor for 1-1 learning. These lessons can happen at any time or place, according to what is convenient for both the tutor and learner. The focus of these sessions is spoken Arabic, mainly in the Levantine dialect. We provide ongoing support, training and materials, but if you are following your own program of learning or have materials or games to bring, please feel welcome! We ask for your active collaboration as learners to make these partnerships a success!

1-1 learning is £10 per 1hour lesson. The expectation is that they happen once a week where at all possible. Lessons cancelled at the last minute will be lost. 

We find that Arabic learning can work better in groups, so let us know if you’d like to be teamed up with other learners. 

To register for 1-1, fill in the form below and the project manager will get in touch to match you with a tutor as soon as there is one available. She will then send you details on how to pay.


Pre-existing groups: If you are a group of friends or business and you would like to learn Arabic with us please get in touch and we will try to accommodate you. 


Contact: If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything, please give the project manager Rose a call on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, 9am - 5pm on 07935 059 036. Looking forwards to hearing from you!   


Where your money goes: all the tutors who volunteer with the project receive a monthly bus pass to cover all their travel expenses throughout their year with the project. Tutors from the pilot year reported that it was of great benefit to them financially and also helped them to get out and about more. All money coming in from students goes directly to cover this and any remaining income is ploughed straight back into training and materials. We have decided not to employ tutors directly as the casual nature of the work seems to confuse the job centre and this poses a risk to their receipt of benefits. 

Who are our tutors and how do they benefit: tutors are refugees who have mainly recently arrived in the UK and are looking for opportunities to meet English people and to volunteer with something that will give them a chance to contribute. Some were teachers in their home countries, some would like to pursue careers here teaching, and many are just keen to have a go and see where it leads. Feedback from the pilot year was incredibly positive. Here are some quotes from our tutors. 

'I feel much more confident now. Before I was really nervous about how to approach English people, but now I can talk to them, and I'm not afraid.'

'At first I was thinking 'I'm not sure if I can really do this' and I was really nervous, but then I started having students and it really encouraged me. They were so nice - like family - we sat together, laughed together - it really gave me strength'. 

'I love the teaching and the talking with students. I love to be able to give something to give back. To contribute. Having something to give makes you happy. It gives you confidence and it gives you motivation to study too'. 


Some things to consider......

There are many types of Arabic! Most books, courses and online resources are designed to teach Modern Standard Arabic – this is a literary language understood across the Arabic speaking world, but nobody actually speaks it. With our program, you will focus on spoken Arabic. The Arabic language is spoken from Morocco across to Iraq, and there are at least as many dialects as there are countries. The majority of our tutors are from Syria and so will teach the Syrian - Levantine dialect. This will allow you to communicate with people from Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon, although people from other countries will understand you too. If you'd like to learn another dialect, please let us know and we'll try to accommodate you. 

More about the pilot project

For refugees who are seeking to rebuild their lives in the UK, finding employment can be a huge challenge, and that their lack of proficiency in English is often held up as the primary barrier to finding a job. We want to turn this on its head and say that refugees’ language skills should be seen as an asset and not a barrier. We feel passionately about enabling refugees and asylum seekers to use the skills and assets that they bring with them to this country, including the languages that they speak.

On this basis, Bridges for Communities has been piloting a project which enables refugees in Bristol to volunteer as Arabic language tutors and enables others to benefit from the opportunity that learning Arabic presents. We aim to enable refugees to take a step towards employment in the UK, and to grow in their confidence and well being as they teach others their language. Alongside this, we aim to enable British people to gain an insight into a new language and culture as they learn Arabic and interact with their refugee tutor. 

In the year ahead we are looking to expand RefuLingua to include group Arabic classes at beginner and improver levels, as well as tuition another community language (Somali or Kurdish anyone?!) Please let us know if you have a particular request for a community language, as we may be able to accommodate you. 


The RefuLingua pilot project was funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation. We would like to express our thanks to them for enabling us to develop this exciting initiative.