Accelerating learning for refugee students in Austria.

Global Issues By Emily Larson March 14, 2017

By Elizabeth Roscoe, Executive Director, Western Union Foundation

Teach For All creativity accelerates learning for refugee students in Austria.

Through the Education for Better program, the Foundation is teaming up with organizations like Teach For All to expand educational opportunity and address inequities in education that can contribute to worldwide challenges. Foundation grants are supporting Teach For All partner organizations in Austria, Germany, Lithuania, France and the UK, helping expand efforts to bring more new leaders into education. Since 2007, across Europe, Teach For All partner organizations placed more than 10,600 teaching participants (Fellows) in disadvantaged schools, reaching more than 1.6 million students!

Faiza and several other Teach For Austria Fellows are helping young refugees from Syria navigate the language barrier in their Vienna classrooms. An Arabic speaker, Faiza can communicate with these 10 to 14-year-old students. However, despite efforts to provide basic German vocabulary and special lesson plans, she and the other Teach For Austria Fellows noticed a severe lack of engagement and participation among these students. While many of them excelled in school in Syria, they became frustrated because they were unable to follow the course material in German.

In response, Faiza, other Fellows, and the Teach For Austria Alumni Club got creative! They developed “EinFACH mehr Deutsch” (it’s a word-game meaning “Simply More German” and “One Subject: More German” at the same time), a special kit to help these young students. The kit includes 15 chapters, covering everyday language that students need at school, such as how to read their school timetables or understand the vocabulary necessary to learn basic math. While the kit isn’t meant to replace the twice per week German language classes offered in school, it helps accelerate the ability to understand lessons and classroom instructions. And most importantly: it’s developed in a way that the kids can learn everything by themselves in their own pace with explanations in the most common languages of refugees in Austria. The EinFACH mehr Deutsch kit will be a helpful resource for teachers and newly-arrived students, enabling them to participate more actively in class, and allowing them to learn new material, improve their language skills and more quickly integrate into their new schools and communities.