SOAS University of London

New extracurricular language learning project delivered by refugees begins at SOAS

10 January 2017

SOAS University of London is piloting a new extracurricular language learning programme which employs refugees to help deliver language education to university students.

Chatterbox works with skilled refugees to provide training, contacts, and work experience in the languages sector. The service will offer language students one-hour sessions with native language speakers to practice and improve their speaking and listening skills.

Professor Lutz Marten, Dean of Faculty of Languages and Cultures, said:“With Chatterbox’s conversation sessions, our students are given the opportunity to add valuable, self-directed language practice to their language learning, gaining essential skills in an increasingly competitive global workforce. This is an engaging and innovative complement to the structure and direction students gain in the classroom, and can help prepare them for study or work abroad where the students are on their own. With Chatterbox, they [the students] can build their confidence and fluency and immerse themselves in language and culture without leaving the country.”

Eiad teaching SOAS student Francis Arabic VI - by Lena Garrett © Chatterbox 2016

Chatterbox teacher Eiad teaching SOAS student Francis Arabic VI - by Lena Garrett © Chatterbox 2016

Dr Ian Pickup, Director of Academic Services at SOAS, said:“Chatterbox is a fantastic educational and social initiative. It allows us to make language learning more immersive for students, who are given the opportunity to develop an individual, student-led experience through engaging with speakers of their target language.  It also allows us to make a meaningful contribution towards improving the lives of refugees settled in the UK.”

Chatterbox uses language as a catalyst to facilitate a much smoother and faster integration of refugees into the labour market. The social enterprise's teacher training programme has been carefully designed to help refugees improve their overall employability, through confidence building, networking, and, more crucially, gaining UK work experience.

The SOAS-Chatterbox project will be piloted from January until March 2017.