New research to help migrant children acting as young translators

Monday, 29 March 2021

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An international consortium of experts, including academics at Oxford Brookes University and The Open University, has been awarded €3 million (£2.6 million) to help refugee and migrant children integrate into host societies through education.

The Networking the Education World: Across Boundaries for Community-building (NEW ABC) project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, will see 14 partners across nine countries develop pilot schemes to address specific linguistic, cultural, social, emotional and challenges that children and young people face when they access the educational system or are left out of it.

Experts will work with migrant and non-migrant students, unaccompanied minors, young asylum-seekers and refugees, as well as schools and teachers, local civil society organisations, NGOs, teaching and intercultural centres, communities and families to develop school and out-of-school formal learning resources.

As well as co-creating and implementing new good practices, a number of existing practices that have been effective in a particular country will also be adopted.

The aim is to achieve more effective local, national and international policy-making in education and inclusion.

Empowering young translators

Academics at Oxford Brookes University and The Open University will create a UK pilot focused on empowering young translators.

Developed and co-designed with young people, resources will build and foster feelings of trust, value, belonging and acceptance between translators and those with whom they interact.

“Young people who migrate to new countries are frequently called on to translate and interpret both outside and inside of school for families, people in their communities and other children,” said Guida de Abreu, Professor of Cultural Psychology at Oxford Brookes University.

“Young people experience both positive and negative emotions associated with translating - but existing programmes to support young translators in schools focus on pragmatic language skills and pay little attention to the cultural, social and emotional wellbeing elements.

“By working with young translators and schools, we will re-frame young translating as a form of care, where children and young people are contributing to the social and emotional wellbeing of their families and communities, and ensure the right tools are in place to support their wellbeing and build feelings of trust, value, belonging and acceptance.”

Schools are facing challenges due to increased diversity

A report by the European Commission says the recent wave of large-scale migrant influxes into many EU Member States has increased the challenges of integration in the host countries. UNICEF found that 5.4 million child migrants, approximately one in six of the world’s migrants below the age of 18, lives in Europe.

"In this context, education systems are facing multiple challenges due to increasing cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity and socio-economic inequalities,” said Rachele Antonini, Associate Professor in Interpreting and Translation at the University of Bologna and the project coordinator of the NEW ABC.

“NEW ABC will make its contribution through education because we believe it is a key element in successful integration in all spheres and dimensions of migrants' lives.”

The NEW ABC: Networking the educational world - Across boundaries for community-building project has begun and will continue for 44 months.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004640. 

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