Crossing linguistic and cultural barriers through Skype.
A Language in Need
Conversational Turkish. Cultural understanding. Live one-on-one tutoring.
Language for Survival
Turkey is currently hosting nearly 3 million Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom did not speak Turkish before arriving. As the Syrian war enters its sixth year, more work is needed to ensure Syrians have access to basic goods, services, education, and employment in Turkey. 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.
However, language remains a critical barrier to integration in Turkey. Language inhibits Syrian capabilities of navigating the Turkish legal system, Turkish companies, Turkish communities and public life, and Turkish higher education. Turkish remains of critical importance for youth and adults looking to matriculate to universities or get jobs in Turkey. Using our one-to-one Skype model, we hope to provide free Turkish instruction to Syrian refugees who need it most.
We match Syrian students with personal Turkish tutors, who meet once a week over Skype to practice Turkish conversation. Our model targets not just individualized instruction, tailored to each student, but also fosters relationships and understanding between Turkish tutors and their Syrian students. Turkish remains a major barrier to accessing education and employment opportunities for Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Though the Turkish government is providing free Turkish lessons, many center are overcrowded or unreachable 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 won't be addressed unless people interact with one another. We see this as one of many ways to help communities build trust and understanding.
The program launched in November 2016, matching six pairs of students and tutors.
We matched six students with individual Turkish tutors, who have been meeting once per week over Skype to practice Turkish. They have a list of additional practice resources online to use for instructional purposes.
Turkish Program Manager Kinda al-Zouby is a Syrian refugee currently living in Istanbul and getting her Master's Degree. She knows first-hand the importance of learning Turkish here, and is dedicated to expanding and improving the Turkish program. Kinda was formerly a Paper Airplanes English student.