Glasgow School of English welcomes Syrian refugees

In partnership with North Ayrshire Council, Glasgow School of English have been delighted to welcome a number of Syrian refugees recently.

Sadly, it is no news that Syria has had a terrible time through the ongoing war that has devastated their country which began almost six years ago. A lot of people would like to leave, but relatively few have been able to do so.

Over the past year, Scotland welcomed more than 1,200 Syrian refuges since the first flight arrived in November, 2015, according to the Scottish government.

Providing English classes for refugees and immigrants are extremely important to enhance opportunities of living, working and integrating in to new communities.

Two of the refugee students studying in Glasgow, Safwat and Ahmad, were prepared to talk briefly about their experiences of living Scotland and learning at the English School.

Safwat is from Homs and Ahmad from Aleppo.  They both live in North Ayrshire now; Ahmad with his mother and Safwat with his mother and brother.

Although these young men are not yet fluent in English, they have made good progress and are improving every day.

When asked if they had studied English at school in Syria, Ahmad said he had, but Safwat had not.

However, they both said that learning to speak English is not too difficult, but writing it is very difficult as they are used to using Arabic characters, not the English letters.

The school has made an impression on the two students who are happy to be studying the language in Glasgow, “It’s very good,” said Ahmad, “and the teachers are very helpful.”

It has been a big change for both young men who say that the buildings in the city are very different from the ones they were used to in their home cities in Syria.

And expectedly, Safwat and Ahmad had to adjust to the Scottish weather when they first arrived. Although many people in Scotland may think that Syria’s climate is very hot, the two said it’s actually quite cold in the winter, but not as wet as it is here in Glasgow.

The differences in the food in Scotland and Syria haven’t daunted the two students, who both confessed their love for fish and chips. But they haven’t tried haggis – the Scottish national dish – yet!

Like most young men over the world, they are keen on football. Though they don’t share the same support for the national teams, as Safwat supports Real Madrid and Ahmad, Barcelona, they both agree that when it comes to Scotland, Celtic is the team for them!

We wish all the new students the best of luck with their studies at the Glasgow School of English.

In the picture, they are, from left to right: Abdulsalam Idlebi, Ahmad Al Turkmani, Safwat Idlebi, Andrew Lennox (the School’s President), Thanaa Aldiri, Lida Al Shaar.

GSE refugee

Galway Cultural Institute / Galway Business School is committed to various community services in our city and our staff is dedicated to offer support and assistance to various charity causes throughout the year through the school. We also inform and support our students in getting involved as much as possible in volunteer opportunities that often come across our path.

Among the most successful events that we have organised this year include:

A cake sale for Daffodil Day – On Daffodil Day thousands of volunteers around Ireland sell daffodil pins and flowers (on streets, in businesses, homes and shopping centres) to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society’s free, nationwide services for those with, and affected by, cancer in Ireland. Daffodil Day is the biggest and longest running fundraising day for the Society, Ireland’s national cancer charity. Staff and students in our school baked, bought cakes, volunteered and donated to our fundraising for Daffodil Day. Together we raised €902.92 for the Irish Cancer Society and we were absolutely delighted with the response we’ve gotten from people for such a good cause!

Another fruitful charity event was for MADRA. MADRA is a volunteer dog rescue and adoption group run by qualified dog trainers. MADRA’s ultimate and overall aim is that all dogs have permanent, loving homes. We wish to help create a world where no healthy, good-natured dogs are killed merely because they are considered to be a surplus number. All money raised went to the charity.

Here is some media material on the event our school organised:

StudyPortals: corporate social responsibility initiatives

IALC are pleased to introduce you to StudyPortals’ corporate social responsibility initiative. Nina Grether, Head of Student Marketing, StudyPortals, has kindly described in detail their various programmes and the ways they are improving education for the benefit of children. Over to Nina:

StudyPortals’ mission is to make education choice transparent globally – we want to help students worldwide to find and compare the international study options.

About 3 years ago, we decided to take this even further and contribute to a cause that aligns with our first core value: Making our world a little bit better.     

K4C_Uganda_2016From the very beginnings of our organisation, we truly believe that quality (international) education can make this world a better place. It has a huge impact on how people interact with each other but also has a positive impact on each individual. For that reason we wanted to stay close to our “roots” and decided to support a project/organization in the education field.

For the past 2 years StudyPortals supported the UNICEF’s “Schools for Africa” campaign – an initiative that supports quality education in Africa. During that time we were able to fund the construction of a new primary school in Guinea – Bissau.

To be more involved, and get better insights what happens with our contributions, we are currently supporting the following organisations:

  1. Knowledge for children (KFC)

KFC supports quality education for children in rural areas of Africa. Stimulating the involvement and self-reliance of the local community by a financial co-investment concept and by working through strong partnerships with education organisations is the goal. StudyPortals currently “adopted” 2 schools in Masaka, Uganda for 3 years.

  1. The Goodfellow Foundation (GF)

A special project, initiated by StudyPortals colleague, Julie Goodfellow. The GF supports excellent female Philippine students to complete their university education. By supporting those girls, receiving a good education, the foundation also wants to give an impulse to achieve equal rights for women in Philippine society. StudyPortals is funding the university education and living costs of 2 excellent (female) students for the coming 2 years.

We believe that the selected organisations are a great match with the mission of our company: “Empowering the world to choose education.” Therefore every year a part of our profits goes the mentioned projects.

Additionally, it was our wish to involve our users and partner schools in this cause. We know that many of our website visitors – mostly international students – would love to contribute to initiatives like the ones stated above. However, being a student often means a limited budget and time to get actively involved into charity.

Therefore we thought of a way to get students involved without investing their own money:

For every new study experience left on the study experience exchange platform, StudyPortals will donate on behalf of the reviewers to Knowledge for Children. The ultimate goal is to support 2 schools for an entire year with books, teacher training, new classroom and everything else that is needed most.

Nina Grether , Head of Student Marketing

StudyPortals — Taking You Further

BWS Germanlingua, Germany

Im Herbst 2015, als mehr als eine Million Flüchtlinge nach Deutschland kamen, hat BWS Germanlingua einen speziellen vierwöchigen Intensivkurs für 45 Geflüchtete, die keinen Zugang zu einem staatlich finanzierten Sprachkurs hatten, kostenlos angeboten.

Diese Kurse wurden getrennt von unseren normalen Deutschkursen durchgeführt, um auf die besonderen Anforderungen der Geflüchteten eingehen zu können. Sechs Monate später kamen zwei der Teilnehmer zurück, um ihre ehemaligen Dozenten zu besuchen und sich für unsere Initiative zu bedanken – natürlich auf Deutsch! Sie waren sehr glücklich mit BWS Germanlingua solide Grundkenntnisse in Deutsch erworben zu haben und konnten erfolgreich darauf aufbauen, so dass sie jetzt gutes Deutsch sprechen können.

IALC member schools support their communities!

We are blessed to do our work in a truly welcoming community and over the last year IALC member schools and their students have been involved in a number of fantastic initiatives for the good of our international society (corporate social responsibility). This month we highlight initiatives in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA.

Impact’s Project Refugee, Australia

Impact English College (Melbourne campus) General English Advanced class, headed up by class teacher Anna Kay, organised a college wide charity drive in support of the Asylum Seeker Research Centre (ASRC) after reading an article about Syrian refugees in a Marie Claire magazine. This was also published in NEAS news last month!

Our students came up with the idea after reading an article in Marie Claire magazine about a woman who fled war-torn Syria with her two young children. Prior to reading the article, the class talked about the refugee crisis in Europe and the issues involving misplaced persons and refugees.

The class began Project Refugee, where the students researched food banks and identified items worthy of collection. One student designed a poster for the project to put up on the noticeboards around the school. The class then coordinated the school-wide collection of food and toiletry donations over a three-week period. Finally, the students visited the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre where they submitted the donations to the food bank.
GE Adv 2 low res GE Adv 1 low res

FIN Mongol Rally adventure (on going)

French in Normandy has assembled a team of passionate go-getters, ready to take on the Mongol Rally for charity! Our route will take us half way across the world in “… the shittest rolling turd of a car we can find”!


5th August 2016:

Well we have achieved such a lot!

We have reached the 15k mark for Heart brilliant well done to all who have contributed to this amazing success.

Also your very own FIN team has reached the Caspian Sea in spite of motor mayhem and unbelievable temperatures! We have been incredibly lucky with the borders so far not having been stopped for more than an hour anywhere until we started the process of getting the ferry to Turkmenistan today Friday 5th August.

The process is very slow and you have to go to a series of windows to get various stamps and so on…some people have been waiting for 6 days as the boat had broken down. FIN breezed up at 9am and by 15h30 we were loaded and ready to find a place to sit. It is now 8pm. The boat is still in Baku and we have just managed to buy our tickets on board. So now the restaurant is opening but only takes Turkmenistan manat..another challenge in order to find a crew member who will give us change for $5!!! Out with my long forgotten Russian and eureka!

Now we just have to wait for the boat to leave….

Read more

COCL (Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre), New Zealand

Here at COLC we appreciate that many of our students come here to see the natural beauty on NZ.  Therefore most of our support goes into environmental initiatives, and perhaps the most interesting is our support of the local Project Kiwi Trust.


We are a small school so our ability to give a big cash donation is limited.  We do support them financially, but our discussions with Project Kiwi made it clear that we could make a more significant contribution in a very different way.  Regular man power is needed to service the large number of trap lines required to keep the kiwi protection zone predator free.  COLC has established a trap line of 35 traps, designed to kill stoats (which are the worst predator of kiwis), and also rats. We service the trap line every couple of weeks and this involves removing and recording kills, re-baiting and re-setting the traps, and keeping them in good working order.

We have been trapping in this area for a little over a year now, and have removed 120 rats and 6 stoats in that time.  The stoats in particular are important because there are now only 70,000 kiwis left in NZ and it is estimated that stoats kill approximately 20,000 kiwi chicks each year.  Kiwis can breed fast enough, we simply cannot keep the chicks alive.

We also sponsor one egg a kiwi zarayear through Project Nestegg. In this initiative Project Kiwi locates nests by placing radio transmitters on the male kiwis in their area.  They then take the egg from the nest and deliver it to a special hatchery in Rotorua.  There the egg is hatched and the kiwi chick is grown in a predator free environment, until it is approximately one kilogram in weight.  At this size it is able to defend itself against most predators that it would encounter in the wild.  At this stage we would go and collect the kiwi and bring it back here to the Coromandel, and release it back into the wild, where it came from.  Sometimes students who are here at the right time are lucky enough to be involved in these releases.

Kiwi chicks born in the wild have about a 5% chance of survival.  If one is born in an area that is well trapped, it has about a 45% chance, and those small number of chicks lucky enough to go through Project Nestegg, have about a 90% chance of survival.

Kiwi protection involves many people right across New Zealand, but here on the Coromandel Peninsula, we are doing our bit to help protect our local population of these extraordinary birds.

International Language Institute of Massachusetts, USA

We are committed to social responsibility and have two compelling stories to tell. First is our long-time program of free English classes for refugees and immigrants that empowers these students and thus enhances their ability to provide for their families and integrate more fully into their communities. The second revolves around our Mayor’s call for making Northampton a State Department pilot project for resettlement of refugees.

Free English classes for refugees and immigrants

ILI’s free English classes for refugees and immigrants are not a “one-off” commitment. To the contrary, this program has been an integral part of our school – and our communities – from almost day one. That’s because shortly after our founding, we realized there was a huge gap between students who could afford our excellent language classes and refugees and immigrants with limited English skills who could not.

Our solution? We worked with the Massachusetts education department and received a grant to launch our free English classes. More than 25 years later, the department continues to support our program. As important, so do people in the area we serve. Our share is about one-third of the total program costs. And each year, our “Giving Voice” fundraising event raises tens of thousands of dollars from many local businesses, local foundations, and hundreds of loyal individual donors who believe, as we do, that breaking down language barriers is key to bettering the lives of area refugees and immigrants. It enables them to be more successful in their jobs, in communicating with their children’s educators, and in giving back to the communities in which they reside.  Watch the local TV coverage of the Giving Voice event.

ILI refugee and immigrant students and community supporters salute the 2016 Giving Voice fundraising event:

Photo #1ILI’s free English classes have literally helped change the lives of our refugee and immigrant students. All adults, they are highly motivated, faithfully arriving at the school after having prepared early dinners for their families or after finishing up at their second (maybe third) job of the day. They know that English skills are key to a brighter future for their families. See an overview of Giving Voice and our free English classes

On average, we serve 60 refugees and immigrants a year. They participate in two, three-hour English evening classes each week over two semesters, led by excellent, dedicated, innovative teachers. We also train community volunteers who commit to one-on-one tutoring sessions with the students.

The classes focus on practicalities, from carrying on conversations at work and in everyday transactions to understanding citizenship requirements, obtaining a driver’s license, learning how to read a bus schedule, and much more. The goal is for students to gain the skills needed to access better education and employment opportunities and to participate more productively in their communities.

In 2015, our refugee and immigrant students were from Brazil, Ecuador, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Cambodia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Morocco, Poland, Guinea, Philippines, Vietnam, Peru, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Dominican Republic, Portugal, Syria, Nicaragua, and Korea. Each class is like a mini United Nations working group, with English — AND the desire to better themselves — as the common denominators.  

Some of our current students:

Photo #2The overwhelming majority of our students are employed and have children. Their typical careers include the service and computer industries, factories, hospitals, and (a few) small, self-owned businesses. Read a recent story in local paper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Measurements of success are many: How well do the students navigate the bureaucracy of the health care system? Did they earn a pay raise or new position at work? Were they accepted at a two-year community college? Did they obtain a driver’s license? Are their children successfully enrolled in school? These are among the myriad milestones we track as our students engage more fully and give back to their communities.

Measurements of success are many: How well do the students navigate the bureaucracy of the health care system? Did they earn a pay raise or new position at work? Were they accepted at a two-year community college? Did they obtain a driver’s license? Are their children successfully enrolled in school? These are among the myriad milestones we track as our students engage more fully and give back to their communities.

Pilot Program for Refugee Resettlement

In June of 2016, Northampton’s Mayor invited ILI to join the advisory committee for a Northampton-based working group to consider all aspects surrounding resettlement of overseas refugees. The Mayor convened the group in response to a call for pilot programs from the U.S. Department of State.

Approximately 51 refugees – parents and their children – from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are the focus of this resettlement initiative. They have been living in resettlement or refugee camps for many years after fleeing their war-torn and strife-ridden countries.

It’s a community effort. ILI, Catholic Charities of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Center for New Americans in Northampton are working with members of the Northampton City Council, the Northampton Superintendent of schools, several faith-based institutions, employment officials, and representatives of the Northampton Housing Authority.

Questions primarily around housing, employment, and education remain to be resolved. But significant optimism exists for the resettlement initiative to begin in late 2016.

And as ILI’s Executive Director Caroline Gear reminds ILI friends and sponsors, “We have nearly 30 years of experience in helping refugees integrate successfully into western Massachusetts communities. ILI looks forward to working with community partners in this potential resettlement initiative.”

BWS Germanlingua, Germany

In autumn 2015, when there were more than 1 million refugees coming into Germany, BWS Germanlingua offered free of charge a special 4 week intensive course for 45 refugees who didn’t have access to one of the state financed German courses.

These courses were held a part from our regular German courses in order to cater their specific needs. Six months later, two of the participants came back to visit us and their former teacher to thank the school for our initiative we undertook at that time – all this in their now good German! They were so happy to have been able to gain a good basic foundation of German with BWS and had been able to build upon it so they now spoke good German.

About this blog

Members of IALC share their insights on the language travel industry. Contributors are owners, directors, managers, teachers or administrative staff of IALC-accredited language schools worldwide.

IALC Workshop

IALC 2017 Workshop in Boston Massachusetts, USA - 23-26 March 2017

IALC 2017 Boston
Dates: 23-26 March 2017
Location: Boston, USA
Educators: IALC-accredited language schools worldwide
Hosted by: ELC Boston

ELC Boston hosts the IALC 2017 workshop

IALC Study Travel Research Report 2016

Trends in the demand for foreign languages
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IALC Study Travel Research Report 2015

Perceptions of independent and boutique chain schools in language travel
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