An exciting new application has been launched by our Languages and Intercultural Studies department, enabling new migrants to learn the language of their host country and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary and concepts; thereby potentially removing some barriers to integration. The Moving Languages app is the result of an EU-funded project led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy, with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as one of the partners.
Free to download on iOS and Android, the app is user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive, providing a gamified language- and culture-learning tool. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition, grammar exercises, flashcards, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, culture, administration, health and immigration tabs, dialogues with audio, audio spelling and comprehension tests and many other features. The app covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country.
While there are many generic language-learning apps, Moving Languages is uniquely designed for the needs of refugees or new migrants. Katerina Strani, who led the development of Moving Languages for Heriot-Watt, said: “There are many good language apps available, but not all of them cater to the needs of newly-arrived migrants or refugees. Moving Languages has dedicated Culture, Administration, Immigration, Health and other tabs.”
That being said, the app’s many features mean that anyone looking to learn a language will find something for them. Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages widely spoken by refugees/migrants in partner countries: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Urdu. They can also use the main languages as support languages if they wish. Therefore, if you download the English app, you can learn English from 25 languages in total.
Katerina concluded: “As a migrant myself, I’ve always been interested in how multiculturalism affects contemporary society and politics at all levels. I wrote my MA dissertation on “Ethnic discrimination against people from the Caucasus in Moscow” after spending six months there as an exchange student. My first funded project was RADAR, which looked at racism and hate communication in six EU countries. I have just received EU funding for a project on Intercultural training for educators, starting in October 2018. The complexities of communities and the challenges of inclusion, which is a two-way process, cannot be overemphasised.
Moving Languages has been an excellent way of putting some of this knowledge into practice. “
Download the Moving Languages App at the links below or browse the Playstore or App Store to find the right language version for your needs. For more information, contact the UK co-ordinator, Katerina Strani at A.Strani@hw.ac.uk; or the project co-ordinator Veronica Gelfgren at Veronica@learnmera.com.