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Chatterbox offers one-to-one conversational practice for language students, both online and on campus, with eloquent native speakers from academic and professional backgrounds who are currently refugees in the UK.
Chatterbox provides training and work experience for refugees in the language professions. In our joint project, Chatterbox conversation partners support student-led learning projects.
SOAS students gain access to the rich expertise and experience of the conversation partners, and improve their fluency and confidence in languages such as Arabic, Korean or Farsi. In short, we are raising the narrative around refugees in the UK, whilst providing our students with cultural appreciation of citizens from countries they might never have the chance to visit.
SOAS language students sign up to use the service on the Chatterbox website www.wearechatterbox.org. Conversation classes are available in several languages and dialects, including: Arabic, Farsi, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Swahili, and Turkish. Each session lasts one hour, and is an opportunity for students to practice their classroom and book-based learning in practical scenario of their own devising. Students chat about their families, their favourite foods or current affairs. It's not a lesson, it's more casual and it's often the beginning of really meaningful friendships.
Where will the money go?
Project Cost breakdown
SOAS ran an initial pilot project in 2016/17, and has just finished a second phase in 2017/18. A steering committee of SOAS students and staff was formed to assess the pilot project, to build a wider dialogue within the university, and to help secure a future for Chatterbox at SOAS.
In the first year, the majority of the sessions delivered were in Arabic, which reflected both the demand from students, and the availability of the partners who were largely from Iraq and Syria.
Both students and tutors were enthusiastic about their experience in the project, feeling that it provided a unique learning experience for students, and valuable experience of working in a British university environment for the tutors. In the second year, there is an additional focus on Hindi, Persian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.
“I found the time with several teachers through Chatterbox very valuable, and am grateful for the extra opportunities to improve my Arabic they afforded me during this last term.”
Patrick, Communicative Arabic
Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat in Russell Square to your mates. The more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work for more partnerships and let more friendships bloom.
And we know we said you don't need to give money to help us, but we'd love it if you did! Please sponsor us and help make this happen.