RefuLingua is a grassroots language project in Bristol that enables people of refugee and migrant background to gain employment or work experience by teaching their native language. By providing training and support, RefuLingua offers an opportunity to develop new skills, meet new people and gain confidence in a new country.
At the same time, RefuLingua gives host communities the opportunity to recognise and value the skills that people of refugee and migrant background bring to our city. It is a way of challenging the stereotype of refugees as people who just need or receive help, and instead to see them as neighbours, contributors and teachers.
Refulingua tutors currently offer spoken Arabic in Levantine and Sudanese dialects, reading and writing in Arabic, spoken Pashto (the main language of Afghanistan) and spoken Somali. Classes either take place on zoom (accompanied by a What’s App group for logistics and sharing resources) or face to face at Easton Family Centre.
All classes run for 8 weeks, starting mid-May.
Please note - if you are interested in studying Sudanese dialect, please get in touch via the link below. You may be able to join up with another student and study together with our Sudanese dialect tutor, or you may be able to study 1-1.
Classes are topic based (rather than grammar based) and do not suppose any prior knowledge of the language unless stated. Classes are fun and interactive with lots of games, role plays and maybe even a few songs!
- Introductions (level 1)
This course will introduce you to a wide range of common greetings, useful expressions, numbers 0-10, family vocabulary, and how to exchange personal information (what’s your name, where are you from, jobs etc).
- Sharing food (level 2)
This course will introduce food vocabulary (fruits, vegetables and more), how to request food and drinks in a café or grocery store, useful expressions for sharing food in someone’s home as well as information on popular dishes from different regions from the language and dialect you are studying.
It is helpful (but not necessary) to have completed the ‘introductions’ course before completing the ‘Sharing Food’ course.
- Making Plans (level 3)
This course will enable you to make basic plans with a native speaker of the language you are learning. It will cover days of the week and time telling, talking about places (café, hospital, park, etc) and prepositions (next to, near to, opposite etc) and as well as basic activities vocabulary (drinking coffee, playing football, going to the park etc).
It is helpful (but not necessary) to have completed the ‘introductions’ course before completing the ‘Making Plans’ course.
This is a basic introduction to body parts internal and external, and common ailments. It will also cover common greetings, useful expressions and basic vocab for discussing a problem. We imagine that medical professionals will benefit the most from this course, but that others may also be interested.
- Reading and Writing Arabic (available on request & subject to demand – please register interest)
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'.
Several of our tutors accept 1-1 students on an independent basis. These lessons may be online or face to face, at any time, according to what is convenient for both you and the tutor. To find out more about 1-1’s please register your interest in the form below and the project manager will get in touch with you to discuss possibilities. 1-1 learning is £15 per 1 hour lesson.
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.
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.
More about the project
For refugees who are seeking to rebuild their lives in the UK, finding employment can be a huge challenge, and 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.
This is the basis on which RefuLingua was set up. We aim to enable refugees to take up employment in the UK, and to grow in their confidence and wellbeing as they teach others their language. Alongside this, we hope our students will gain an insight into a new language and culture as they learn and interact with their refugee tutor.
Some things to consider for those wanting to learn Arabic......
There are many types of Arabic! Most books, courses and online resources are designed to teach Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) – this is a literary language understood across the Arabic speaking world, but nobody actually speaks it. For those who know that they want to learn Arabic in a serious long-term way, or to read the Quran, we would recommend learning to read and write (MSA) first.
The Arabic language is spoken from Morocco across to Iraq, and there are at least as many dialects as there are countries. It could be argued that each different village, or each area of Damascus, has its own unique dialect. This can make studying dialect feel like a slippery process! Our group classes offer a dip of a toe into a couple of different dialects (Sudanese and Levantine). They cover the basics that should allow you to make a friend, share some food or make a plan across Sudan and the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine).