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How you can help refugees to learn English

By August 14, 2016April 28th, 2017Blog post
Refugee man in library with teacher and open books

For refugees who don’t speak English or only having a limited understanding, the transition into a new community can be even harder.

Difficulties communicating with those around them, can be incredibly isolating and create massive obstacles in being able to re-start their lives. So your direct help can make a huge difference.

Below, are links to different organisations and websites that are looking for volunteers to help refugees with English.

Assisting with accredited English college courses

Accredited English courses, like English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) are incredibly important. They provide people with recognised qualifications and are crucial for getting jobs, moving into other training or educational courses, as well as being an essential requirement for future citizenship in the United Kingdom.

Accredited courses are led by formally qualified teachers, who are sometimes assisted by volunteers. Check if your local college runs English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and contact them, to see if they need volunteer assistants. If you’re in or near Glasgow, you can also find providers through the Glasgow ESOL Forum or Learn ESOL Glasgow.

Assisting community and informal English learning groups

There’s a wide range of English learning groups, run community organisations, charities and faith groups who rely upon volunteers.

While these types of groups are not accredited, they are still very helpful to refugees who want to improve their everyday English language, meet new friends and get more involved in their new community.

To find your nearest community or informal English learning group visit the or enquire at your local Volunteer Centre.

You can also check with refugee and asylum seeker focus charities or community groups, like the ones we have listed below, to see if they run an English learning group and require volunteers:

Refugee Action 

Refugee Council 

Migrant Help 

Welsh Refugee Council 

North of England Refugee Service

Northern Ireland Community of Refugees & Asylum Seekers  

City of Sanctuary 

Student Action for Refugees

Bristol Refugee Rights 

The Welcoming, Edinburgh

My friend is a refugee. Are there some free English learning resources they or I can access online, to help improve their language?

Yes. There is an extensive amount of resources on the British Council’s ESOL Nexus website, and YouTube channel which can help with understanding English better, as well as information about British life and culture.

Sign our Let Refugees Learn petition.