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. 

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

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 (see link below) 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.

Since 2012, together with our partners, we have developed a range of projects that support Syrians and host communities to build their resilience through language.  


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

Online Teacher Education

Our online teacher education programme aims at improving the quality of English language teaching and ultimately improving student learning outcomes. We do this by providing tailored online-delivered professional development programmes for teachers of English across Syria. These blended courses utilise a range of online learning platforms and engage teachers in a participatory learning process. Our tried and tested model of online learning can be accessed by teachers all over Syria and is an effective way of fostering peer-to-peer professional networks despite geographic barriers. 

Our approach creates digital communities of practice where Syrian teachers can speak to each other and share their expertise and challenges on platforms that encourage innovation and peer support.  Through virtual engagement, we support teachers and equip them with tools and methodologies to proactively identify and respond to the challenges they face daily.

Retention and Support Project – Lebanon

The Retention and Support project helps NGOs and teachers in Lebanon to support students to improve enrolment and language learning and enable children to access education.

The British Council and local Arabic-language partner Ana Aqra, are working in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in Lebanon to roll out a standardised 96-hour retention support programme through NGOs working with vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian young people. 

Designed to help students develop strategies and skills that will help them do their homework, the project is made up of two principal teacher training components. The first part is delivered in Arabic and focuses on improving teachers’ classroom management skills. The second part looks at attitude and language aptitude and provides communication tools to help teachers promote diversity and social cohesion within the classroom, as well as motivate students to learn a new language. It also includes strategies that help teachers and students teach and learn English and French, with the ultimate goal being that students will be able to do their homework autonomously.

External links