Language for Resilience: supporting Syrian refugees

How language can support the resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities

July 2016

Now in its sixth year, the Syrian conflict has created the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. Over 4.8 million Syrians are refugees in neighbouring countries, hundreds of thousands in Europe and 6.6 million people are displaced inside Syria.

The Language for Resilience report examines the impact of language on refugees and host communities affected by the Syrian crisis, identifying the different ways that language skills enhance resilience and providing suggestions for programme responses that address key needs.

The authors carried out desk and field research in Jordan, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey – interviewing teachers, ministry of education officials, children, parents, volunteers and non-governmental organisation (NGO) staff. 

This report is offered as a contribution to the understanding of how language learning builds resilience, whether it is giving a voice to young people and adults, building social cohesion in host communities or providing individuals with the skills they need to access work, services, education and information.

The report shows that for children and young people attending schools or post-school education, and for educators in host communities handling influxes of refugee students, quality language learning improves attainment and attendance and builds safer and more inclusive classrooms. It also illustrates how creative approaches to language education can support the development of life skills and help meet psycho-social needs.