Tag Archives: mooc

Getting into Higher Education for Refugees

Aim Higher - University Jargon quizThis month’s guest post is provided by by Julie Watson, Emeritus Fellow in eLearning and creator of Prepare for Success, and follows on from last month’s post about Teaching Syrian and other refugees:

For refugees wishing to enter UK Higher Education, it can be a challenge to know how and where to begin. There are many practical questions such as how to apply; how to finance your studies; how to provide evidence of your previous studies and, of course, how to provide evidence of an adequate level of English.

A very useful website to use as a starting point is Refugee Study. This website contains lots of practical information about scholarships and grants as well as advice about how to obtain funding for study and links to website listing recognised qualifications obtained overseas.

Many of the questions that refugees have are also addressed in the open and free online course (MOOC): Aim Higher: Access to Higher Education for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Student participants can create an account and select ‘register interest’ to receive information by email about the next running of this MOOC.

There are also MOOCs covering IELTS, which is an examination that many students choose to take to demonstrate their English level for UK study. These include:

There is a lot of jargon around the process of applying to university but a useful resource that explains some important terms has been created by the Aim Higher MOOC team: Aim Higher University Jargon.

Finally, there is of course the Prepare for Success website and its range of learning resources dealing with the academic skills and language needed, and practical aspects of study in higher education in the UK.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Teaching Syrian and other refugees

Volunteering with Refugees MOOCThis month’s guest post is provided by by Julie Watson, Emeritus Fellow in eLearning and creator of Prepare for Success:

To date the UK has received c. 8000 Syrian refugees through its Syrian Vulnerable Person resettlement programme towards the quota of 20,000 by 2020 set by the government. Vulnerable Syrian families attempting to adjust to life and culture in a different country after the loss of home, livelihood, possessions and community in their country of origin and much other hardship besides, face a level of challenge which is unimaginable to most of us. Resettlement programmes prioritise providing support for housing, finding work and learning English. The latter is a vital step in the process of resettlement. Unfortunately, not all adult refugees are able to start English classes when they arrive in the UK; some are having to wait a long time, even several years, before being able to start learning English. These problems are not confined to Syrian refugees but are commonly experienced by all refugees in various parts of the UK.

ESOL courses delivered by Further Education colleges and by charities and partnerships supported by funding through local councils, the EU and the lottery are typical means of providing English language support. However, there are waiting lists for class places in some parts of the country. Increasingly, volunteers are coming forward to help deliver free classes. These volunteers include very experienced teachers with an armful of qualifications as well as individuals new to teaching, to ESOL or to teaching refugees. A problem commonly faced is the lack of suitable course books for teaching refugees since most publications are designed for an EFL market and are far too Euro-centric in approach, especially for students with no, or very little, English. Where possible, the best approach is to design or evolve a tailor-made course for students following an initial language assessment and needs analysis. Then a ‘mix and match’ approach can be adopted using volunteer-created materials, which include realia and authentic material from everyday life, and mixing these with carefully-selected teaching materials freely available on the internet.

A Google search will throw up lots of websites hosting or sharing free teaching ideas, activities and downloadable practice exercises for all aspects of standard EFL. However, there are also websites which cater more for the circumstances that refugees find themselves in, providing contextually relevant material and an introduction to practical aspects of living in the UK and so-called ‘Skills for Life’. One example is the Excellence Gateway ESOL page. This site is a bit challenging to navigate around but there are some useful resources here. Users need to create an account.

For prospective or new volunteers, or teachers wishing to understand more about volunteering with refugees there are several free and open courses (MOOCs) online. See for example Volunteering with refugees. This MOOC is due to run again from 15 January 2018 or you can sign up to join a later course.

The Crisis Classroom website also offers some useful background for volunteers.

Next month’s blogpost will consider the situation of Syrian students aiming to study in Higher Education in the UK and the resources that are available to help them with this.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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MOOCs – free online courses for English language students

MOOCThis week’s blogpost is in reply to a student who has asked if there are any free online courses to help them improve their English.

Recently, one kind of online course that has generated quite a lot of interest is the MOOC. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are free (open) for anyone to sign up to do and consequently, with the help of wide marketing, they are attracting many thousands of participants (massive) from all over the world. MOOCs are generally short, varying in length from between 4 weeks and 8 weeks. Typical course content includes videos featuring subject experts; links to articles; discussion forum-type activities; threads where you can add a written comment about a topic; test-yourself weekly quizzes. In some cases, if you complete the course you may be able to purchase a completion certificate as evidence of this. MOOCs have educators or online facilitators who guide participants through the course. In the USA, MOOCs are delivered by Coursera and Edx; in the UK the main provider is currently FutureLearn.

Some MOOCs offered on a regular basis through FutureLearn which may be of interest to English language learners are:
Exploring English Language and Culture, a MOOC offered by the British Council. Next course starts on 2nd February 2015.
A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study, a MOOC offered by the University of Reading. Next course starts on 19th January 2015.
Study Skills for International Students, a MOOC offered by the University of East Anglia. Next course starts on 24th November 2014.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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