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Being from a different country and moving to one where a different language is spoken can be challenging at the start. It does get easier as time goes on .. although it’s much harder for Syrians who came here at an old(er) age as the accent and the language itself is much more difficult to learn than it is for me who came to Newry at a young age.

Younger ones will pick it up much faster and the English language is in fact taught in Arab schools as a foreign language, just like how we learn French/ Spanish here in Northern Ireland, so for us it was much easier whereas older families found it much more difficult and are still struggle to this day and use their younger children to help translate from time to time.

This makes it difficult as it’s hard for parents to attend things such as parent/ teacher evenings, doctor appointments, or even just reading a school letter etc.  For example my dads English is really good he's lived in Newry before i was even born so he’s usually the one who attends those meetings, whereas my mums English isn’t as it should be considering she’s been here for 9 years, but it’s getting better.

One of the most difficult thing is knowing that my little twin brothers (Adam and Omar) have a huge language barrier as they were born here and their whole surrounding is the English language which coupled with them not having any family members who live in this country made it more difficult for them to speak Arabic. Because of this it took them way longer to speak full sentences than other kids as they were learning 2 languages at the same time , Arabic and English. Now, their English is stronger and their Arabic is still there as mum and dad refused to give up on teaching it to them it , and they are absolutely right because if they were to go back to visit their granny who doesn’t speak English for example, how is she going to communicate with her grandchildren? How are they going to communicate with their other family members?

In my opinion, I think this is a problem many families will face in the future. I do a good bit of interpreting whether it’s for my mum or her friends when they ask me for help to book appointments etc . At home my dad massively encourages us to speak Arabic as it’s the only place we really speak it. Everywhere else is English and he doesn’t want us to forget our own language, although we do  lean on English when us siblings talk to one another.

I think it’s the same for people who are from Russia, Poland , Lithuania and Romania who are a big population in not only Newry but Northern Ireland in general. I don’t think it’s as much of a problem in terms of their kids as they have a lot of their own surroundings here but i do think it’s the same issue with learning the language for older ones, the same goes for every country anyone is going to live in.

What’s your situation like?

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michelle Tager · 7 days ago
    Check out alefb.org for Online Arabic classes with teachers hired in the Arab countries to create much needed job opportunities. #arabic4good

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