Teach English in Xueyan Zhen - Changzhou Shi

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The following essay is a summative task for my TEFL certification course. I have chosen the topic “How Could Refugees Benefit from Online English Courses?” Background The topic of refugees benefiting from online English language training is particularly relevant to me because of my recent experience serving on the Board of a nonprofit organization. This organization employs virtual tools to provide free, peer-to-peer English language and skills instruction to refugees affected by conflict in the Middle East. This leadership experience helped me understand the importance of online learning in addressing the education gap for conflict-affected individuals. English language skills allow these individuals to pursue further educational and employment opportunities, and ultimately rebuild their lives. In this essay, I will address the benefits and shortcomings of this online education approach. The Challenge Conflict-affected individuals face many barriers to matriculation and employment, including lacking credentials, required language or technical skills. However, just 2% of emergency humanitarian aid is spent on educational programs. Formal educational institutions and nonprofit centers may offer language and skill instruction, but most programs remain inaccessible to those inside of conflict zones, those in rural areas, and those without significant transportation issues. In addition, many refugees lack proper credentials and training to access the job market, or language skills to enter training courses. Furthermore, some training courses may be costly which presents an additional hurdle for conflict-affected youth. The Benefits of Learning English English language training is important for conflict-affected youth because it can unlock employment and educational opportunities. English is the most common language in the world for university-level instruction and is often the first required step in applying to university programs. While English is not required for schools in Syria, it is a requirement for entrance to schools in many countries where refugees live, including Turkey, Jordan, Europe and North America. Mastering English can allow learners to apply for skills training programs like computer coding classes, access remote employment and earn higher wages. As an example, online and in-person coding boot camps, like those run by Re:coded which targets refugees, require English as a prerequisite for admittance. Additionally, English language is important in the hospitality and tourism industry which is a vital economic force in the countries of first refuge. Online EFL English Training for Conflict-Affected Individuals Online training provides a unique opportunity to reach conflict-affected individuals. I am proud to support a nonprofit organization that is working to address the gaps in language and skills acquisition by engaging volunteers in the West to provide free, peer-to-peer language and skills instruction to conflict-affected youth. This vibrant organization was founded by young social entrepreneurs. The instructors are trained online and follow a tiered curriculum written by an EFL specialist, ensuring consistency and quality of the learning experience. In addition, learners receive individual support as they search for scholarships, apply to universities, prepare for professional qualification exams, write CVs, or look to enter the job market. The peer-to-peer approach to training is one of unique features of this model. Research shows that one-on-one language support can lead to quicker learning and higher retention rates. Our practical experience supports these findings. The retention rates for our peer-to-peer online courses were substantially higher than those for pre-recorded classes. Our nonprofit reported a nearly 80% student retention compared to a 30% completion rate for refugees enrolled in pre-recorded online courses with Coursera. The improved retention and graduation rates are likely due to individualized instruction and personal encouragement provided by tutors. Our volunteers were also positively impacted by this experience. Nearly all of them enjoyed these cross-cultural exchanges and getting to know their students as individuals, rather than statistics. In other words, a peer-to-peer instruction model fosters learning on both sides of the computer screen, enabling the development of close relationships that extend beyond the virtual classroom. Conclusion To summarize, online English language learning, when supplemented by one-on-one tutoring sessions, is an effective solution for addressing gaps in language and skills acquisition for refugees. An important constraint of this model is its limited scalability. Fortunately, thus far, our organization was able to motivate and recruit hundreds of tutor volunteers and continue to provide training for conflict-affected youth.