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Volunteering for Refugees MOOC opens

A MOOC to prepare volunteers to help refugees has been launched on FutureLearn this week.

Photo: Crisis Classroom

Registrations have reached 2,600 and "are growing daily”

Developed with Cambridge English and social enterprise Crisis Classroom, the three week course offers learners basic language teaching tips and how to identify refugees’ needs.

Registrations have reached 2,600 and “are growing daily”, according to Monica Poulter of Cambridge English, who led the development of the course.

The UK dominates learner countries but a number of sign-ups have come from Australia, the US, Malaysia and across Europe, Poulter said.

“Most learners know that refugees are arriving or are about to arrive and they want to learn how to help”

“Most learners know that refugees are arriving or are about to arrive and they want to learn how to help,” she said.

Course content for Volunteering with Refugees was developed with Crisis Classroom, a social enterprise which trains volunteers to work with people who find themselves in crisis both inside and outside the system.

In addition to key concepts on how to teach English, pre-made lesson plans and a resources bank, the course also includes training on how to deal with people who have suffered trauma.

Cultural adaptation strategies like how to learn a new language and how to interact with people from a different culture are also included in the training.

“We developed these courses because we believe that language skills can help to give people the opportunity to integrate into a new community and take back control of their own lives,” Poulter said.

The MOOC has been promoted through a number of refugee councils, TEFL organisations and refugee agencies around the world. It has also garnered a good push by word of mouth, said Poulter.

“We’re hoping we set up a network of people who are sharing ideas in the online world. Governments are doing things to a limited extent but volunteers can supplement whatever support is available,” she added.

“We also want to make volunteers’ jobs easier. A lot of them aren’t trained teachers, they just want to empower refugees and help them get their lives back together.”

The course started September 4, and will run for three weeks but will be available on the FutureLearn platform for six weeks after it concludes.

Earlier this year more than 1,600 people signed up for Aim Higher, another free online course designed by Cambridge English to help refugees to access higher education.

Launched in partnership with FutureLearn as well, the course gives advice and support on the English language skills needed for university level study and includes the insights and experience of students who have gained places at UK universities.

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