Language for Resilience

An exhibition: 12 February 22 June 2018

Across the world millions of people have been displaced from their homes by conflict and civil unrest. Many of those displaced find themselves far from home, separated from family members and social support without the language skills they need for even basic communication and access to essential services. Education and career opportunities for both children and adults have been severely disrupted, or halted.

Language learning is absolutely essential. It helps refugees and their host communities to withstand challenges, to recover from crisis, to overcome barriers – to build resilience.

Visit the exhibition

12 February – 22 June 2018
British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London, SW1A 2BN

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How language builds resilience

'Language is an equalizer. When a child can speak and write in the host country language they develop the confidence and self-assurance to communicate with their peers, building a solid educational foundation that serves them for the rest of their lives.'
Amin Awad, UNHCR Middle East and North Africa Bureau, Regional Refugee Co-ordinator for the Syria and Iraq Situations

Based on our work in partnership with international institutions, individuals and communities across the Middle East, Africa, the European Union and the Americas, the Language for Resilience research identifies five ways language builds resilience, whether that’s 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.

Language and identity

Home languages provide the language skills and literacy which are the basis for learning new languages and learning in general. By protecting the use of refugees’ home languages, supporting their use in the home, throughout communities and through multilingual education, we can help break down the barriers to schooling and further education.

Communities brought together

Language learning promotes inclusion and non-discrimination. It allows refugee communities to come together with their host communities, strengthening the society of which they are all part. A shared language increases refugee integration and helps refugees to become self-sufficient and make valuable contributions to their local community.

Reducing isolation

The Accessing Education project in Lebanon used innovative psychosocial approaches and language support. It was co-funded by the EU and delivered in partnership with Institut Français du Liban.

The Retention and Support programme helps NGOs and teachers to deliver support to improve enrolment and language learning for children to access education and is delivered in partnership with UNICEF Lebanon.

A safe space

Language has a central role to play in helping refugees to address the effects of loss, displacement and trauma and teaching environments – both physical and online – can create safe spaces to work through the effects of trauma.

Israa Ahmad Ghoneim, Syrian mother living with her family in Beirut.

A better future

Only 1 to 5 per cent of young refugees of post-secondary age are currently enrolled in a university programme in host countries. Language skills are vital to access information about education and training courses and to continue studies at school or at university.

Opportunities for education and training can help refugees build resilience so they are able to start rebuilding their lives and planning for the future.

Opening the door to education

The EU Madad Fund HOPES (Higher and Further Education Opportunities and Perspectives for Syrians) and the EU-funded project LASER (Language and Academic Skills and E-learning Resources) provide the academic counselling, scholarships and language training for Syrians and disadvantaged young people from host communities to access higher education opportunities.

Strengthening education systems

As some host countries have seen their populations’ double, challenges such as overcrowded classrooms, children not in education, lack of teacher training, gender inequality and poor teaching materials create demands on education systems.

Innovative teacher training and development, curriculum development, quality teaching resources and creative approaches through language education help to build the resilience of host countries.

Bassam Aljabr, Relief International at Jordan’s Zaatari Camp, 2016.

‘Education has a critical role to play in giving social and economic opportunities, building resilience to extremism, and reducing drivers of further onward migration. However, only a small proportion of the money directed towards alleviating the crisis is currently being spent on education.’
Joel Bubbers, British Council Director Jordan

Get involved

Join the Language for Resilience partnership network
Join the community with fellow professionals involved in language education and the humanitarian response, to collaborate on and improve knowledge of innovative language education in support of building the resilience of refugees and their host communities.

Join us on Twitter
What does resilience mean to you?
Tell us your answers and share your experience using #LanguageforResilience @BritishCouncil

Visit the exhibition
11 February – 22 June 2018

British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN

Visit the virtual exhibition.

With thanks to our Language for Resilience partners

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