• Many Syrian citizens have sought refuge across the border in Turkey, most of whom do not speak Turkish. The Turkish Program helps navigate linguistic, cultural and circumstancial barriers in a new country through virtual lessons.

  • How It Works



    Once selected, students and tutors are matched based on their language abilities, age, gender, and interests.



    Tutors go through an intensive virtual two-week training on the Syrian crisis, working with impacted persons, as well as language pedagogies.



    Matched pairs meet on Skype for two-hour weekly sessions for 16 weeks, using a custom curriculum.



    Tutors and staff assist students in preparing a CV and a personal statement, and also assist them in accessing professional development webinars.

  • A Language in Need

    Language for Survival

    Turkey is currently hosting nearly 3 million Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom did not speak Turkish before crossing the border. More work is needed to ensure Syrians have access to basic goods, services, education and employment in Turkey. Being fluent in the local language helps refugees navigate the Turkish legal system, engage with businesses, participate in local communities and complete educational goals. Helping Syrians integrate into Turkish communities is critical not just to the stability of Turkey, but for the dignity and future stability of Syrians now living there, and having conversational Turkish skills greatly contributes to this effort.

    Personalized Instruction

    We match Syrian students with vetted Turkish tutors, who meet once a week over Skype to practice the Turkish language. Paper Airplanes’ approach is through instruction tailored to each student. Although the Turkish government also provides free Turkish lessons, many centers are overcrowded or inaccessible for those not living in major cities. Further, rising anti-refugee sentiment is becoming a major problem in Turkey (see here and here), one that will fester unless people interact with one another to clear misconceptions. We view Turkish language training as one of many ways to help communities build trust and understanding.

  • Program Impact

    The Turkish Program launched in November 2016. We matched six Syrian students with six Turkish tutors, who have been meeting once per week over Skype to practice conversational Turkish, utilizing additional practice resources online.


    Get to know our Turkish Program Manager, Mert Arikan, and our other PA staff here

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