Mastering English language and interpersonal skills: a teaching course for Syrian refugees and underprivileged Jordanians

Forced Migration, Attention and Integration Strategies

by Dr Anas AlSobeh and Dr. Aya Akkawi

This work aim is to transform the world through education, and we are specifically focused on giving refugees and people from marginalised communities access to tertiary education. However, students need a certain level in English to be able to have access. 

MESTR-JO’s provides students with this steppingstone and is the first step on the learning pathway for many of our students. Once they have completed the English course, they are equipped to access higher education in the form of a English professional or academic course. The course also enhances job opportunities and the chance of success in a local university course. 

Language is one of the biggest barriers to tertiary education to refugees and those from marginalised communities. By providing a high-quality English course, they will be able to acquire the English skills they need to access tertiary education, whether it be a professional or academic course through MESTR-JO, or a tertiary course at a local university. It also opens job opportunities.  

It is more than just an English course though: it also seeks to address issues such as not having a voice in the local and global community, tensions or lack of understanding between students of different ethnic, religious groups or of different nationalities and students not being computer literate, which limits their success in the modern world. 

The MESTR-JO course provides a blended learning experience so that the students get the best of both worlds. The classroom element means that students get in-person interaction and support from a learning facilitator. The ICT element means that students get access to a greater range of audio/video materials and it is a more economical model (compared to shipping books to all locations). The success of the course is down to the complementary role of ICT in learning English, in addition to the input from the local teacher. 

The course materials can be accessed through our Learning Management System (LMS). Students use their own device to access the LMS which means course materials can be accessed anywhere at any time. It has online and offline features, meaning that the course materials can be accessed easily, even by students who only have an intermittent internet connection. Once the packages are downloaded, they can be used without being connected to the internet. 

The on-site coordinators and teachers are offered regular support from MESTR-JO’s Global English Language Director and are accompanied through any challenges or difficulties. There are regular communications through videoconference meetings and via email. This helps to ensure the course is effective and sustainable long term. They also have the opportunity to interact with other coordinators from other centres across the globe and are thus part of a global teacher community. 

The students also have the opportunity to interact with their counterparts from other centres across the globe (e.g. through the Soliya initiative, MESTR-JO student Facebook page, discussion groups build into the LMS) so they become part of a global learning community.  


Anas AlSobeh

Dr Anas AlSobeh received his B.Sc and M.Sc. degrees in computer information systems from Yarmouk University in 2003 and 2010, respectively. He also received Ph.D. degree in computer science from Utah State University/USA with a honer in Dec. 2015. He joined Yarmouk University academic staff in 2016. He is currently an associate professor of information systems (IS).  AlSobeh is the director of the Refugees, Displaced Persons, and Forced Migration Studies Centre at Yarmouk University.  He works with an international team to education and training needs in the context of Forced Migration and Refugees.