Firefly for Syrian’s Centre in Antakya – Arabic language programme for children

Ahmed is a five-year-old refugee from Northern Syria. He was withdrawn and had severe separation anxiety when he first came to our centre in Antakya, Turkey. Ahmed did not like to interact or play with other children.  He currently lives in a very poor part of the Antakya city with his family members that have survived the Syrian war.

When he joined the Arabic course on the 12 September 2020, he had no previous formal learning experience. He had difficulty controlling the pen in his attempt to write and struggled memorising simple words. He did not want to listen to the stories in the educational videos sent on the WhatsApp group and we could not force him to do so.

During his baseline assessment he refused to sit down and started crying, his mother tried hard to calm him down, and it took a while until he sat quietly staring in computer screen but not participating.

In the Arabic learning course during lock down, we created a WhatsApp group that includes 25 children, teachers send educational videos and guide children through a highly structured phonetic approach to learning Arabic language this is brought alive with colourful resources, games and creative tasks supplied by us.  Caregivers are trained by our staff to support their children’s learning and record video clips of their children that are sent to the group. The teacher reviews each clip and then replies with a voice message to each child, the message includes words of praise and encouragement.

Rasha, head of our Arabic language programme put a lot of time and patience into nurturing Ahmed and supporting his mother who had suffered a very hard war.

When Ahmed was not doing any homework, teacher asked Ahmed’s mother to try make him watch other children’s recorded videos, and to listen to the voice messages of praise and encouragement. The teacher also visited Ahmed personally in his home several times to build communication with him.

After a while as Ahmed’s trust and confidence grew, he slowly began to participate and enjoyed feedback from his teacher on the Whatsapp group.

When Ahmed came to our centre for his first monthly assessment, he was happy to meet the other children, he started smiling.

Ahmed has been with us now for twelve months and will continue for another year.

Now his mother says:

“I feel so much better for Ahmed because he is no longer shy as before, and he loves to learn and communicate with other children and has benefited a lot in the Arabic language course, all thanks to the teachers in Firefly for Syrians and its management.”