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11 July 2022

King's staff team up with European partners to create French courses for student refugees

French language experts at King’s are working through the Circle U. Alliance to support refugee students continue their education at universities in France and Belgium.

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Language and education experts from within the Circle U. European University Alliance have rapidly developed short courses to help students displaced by the war in Ukraine and from other countries learn French.

Developed by members of Circle U.’s Le French Hub, students from Ukraine and other refugee students at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and Université Paris Cité (France) can take online modules with tutor support to help them learn French language basics. The six-week courses, which began this month, have been developed at speed to support these students settle into life in a new country and continue their education.

To rapidly develop a six-week blended learning course, the team members from Le French Hub combined and repurposed existing learning materials from across King's College London, Université Catholique de Louvain and Université Paris Cité. Using the online learning platform Moodle, students work through self-learning activities alongside weekly webinars with tutors so they can practice pronunciation and conversation in French and assess the students’ work.

Dr Ana Maria Sousa Aguiar de Medeiros, Director of the Modern Languages Center at King’s College London and her Centre colleagues Jérôme Berthérat and Cyril Bastanes are part of the team developing these courses.

Language barriers are among the main obstacles in integrating international students into universities and the arrival of Ukrainian students in a time of crisis into universities presented us with new challenges. I am delighted that colleagues from our French team were able to mobilise so quickly to participate in this effort and support these students in adjusting and integrating into life in a new country.

Dr Ana Maria Sousa Aguiar de Medeiros, Director of the Modern Languages Center at King’s College London

King’s continues to offer language courses online as well as in person following the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to contributing learning materials to the initiative, King’s staff have also drawn on their experiences to advise on the best ways to deliver language courses online.

The team are planning to offer further courses at Université Catholique de Louvain and Université Paris Cité this year, and to make them available to more students and staff. The French Hub will meet at the beginning of July to assess the initiative and hope it can be a model and an inspiration for other micro-collaborations within our alliance.

About ‘le French Hub’ and Circle U.

‘Le French Hub’ is a collaboration between Université Paris Cité, Université Catholique de Louvain, King’s College London and the University of Aarhus. The French Hub aims to create initiatives to facilitate learning French and create exchanges between partners in other disciplines where French is the main language.

Circle U. is a European University Alliance co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and Horizon 2020 of the European Union. King’s College London is part of Circle U., which is led by the University of Oslo (Norway) and includes eight other European universities who share a commitment to developing knowledge in service to society.

In this story

Headshot of Ana De Medeiros with blurred background with library shelves.

Director of the King's Language Centre

Cyril Bastanes

Teacher of French

Jerome Bertherat

Deputy Team Leader for the French Team

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