By far the top concern for Syrian New Scots was language learning. While most were attending ESOL classes, many felt that provision was inadequate, citing classes at limited times and locations, lack of opportunity for progression, or conversely, classes that began with sentences and vocabulary, rather than starting with the basics of letters and sounds. There was also frustration with a lack of Arabic
speakers at ESOL classes who could help explain grammar, and lack of childcare provision or gendersegregated classes (which has been identified as a problem in other research).
Participants were keen to see a wider range of classes at different times and locations. Quality and a more tailored approach were important, for example classes focused on practical topics (employment, parenting, specific jobs, health & safety, etc), a wider range of levels, and better matched to people’s skills (not assuming that everyone can read, for example).
Beyond classes, participants were also keen to have more opportunities to practise and learn in social settings – volunteering, work experience, social events, etc – not only to improve their language skills but also to better understand cultural norms and practices, and to build relationships with local people. Language support for the theory part of the driving test was also a significant concern, with poor public transport in rural areas leading to social isolation.