HELPING THE TEACHER – Working practices in teaching Bulgarian as a foreign language to adults, asylum seekers and refugees

On April 21-23, in Burgas, the Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants held a second training “HELPING THE TEACHER – Working practices in teaching Bulgarian as a foreign language to adults, asylum seekers and refugees”. The training was organized under the project “Advocacy for the Integration of Refugees in Bulgaria”, financed by UNHCR.

The event is part of the BSBM’s efforts to contribute to increasing the quality and effectiveness of the teaching of the Bulgarian language to refugees as a prerequisite for their real integration. It is a continuation of the forum “Teaching Bulgarian as a Foreign Language: The Role of Institutions and Challenges for Practitioners”, organized by BSBM in partnership with UNHCR and UNICEF in November 2022.

The training of trainers is a response to the desire and recommendations of Bulgarian language teachers of adult refugees to share experience, knowledge and good practices.

The main goal of the training is to increase the quality of teaching Bulgarian as a foreign language for asylum seekers and refugees in order to facilitate their adaptation, inclusion and integration into Bulgarian society.

The training program is aimed at two main tasks: to acquaint the teachers with successful practices in teaching Bulgarian as a foreign language to asylum seekers and refugees, and to provide a forum for the exchange of expert knowledge, skills and experience of the participants.

The program was carried out by leading specialists in Bulgarian language training for asylum seekers and refugees.

Radost Sabeva and Radoslava Zagorova presented the specifics of teaching Bulgarian as a foreign language and the specifics of teaching refugees; the impact on the learning process of working in groups; the role of the communicative approach in education; lesson steps and elements; language activities, activities and games in learning.

Vladislav Damyanov presented teaching through suggestopedia and desuestopedic training – science, methodology, practical tips and demonstrations of a suggestopedic lesson in Bulgarian.

The training included presentations by lecturers, tutorials and group work.

All participants were encouraged to share challenges and successes from their work, comment on the themes and make recommendations for further action.

The participants in the training made interesting suggestions for follow-up activities that would contribute to increasing the effectiveness of teaching the Bulgarian language to refugees. The recommendations include additional training for trainers on specific topics: grammar, vocabulary, cross culture; interactive forms, methods and approaches in education; motivation of the students, etc.

The lecturers made a proposal, as a natural continuation of the training, to make a Creative Workshop, in which there will be: a. a theoretical part including useful topics such as stress management, sociolinguistics, Waldorf education and applying ideas from this system to refugee education and b. a practical part to present ways of teaching difficult grammar units: verb aspect, datives and accusative forms of personal pronouns, the definite article, the complex verb tenses.

Another interesting suggestion of the lecturers, argued with a need shared by the teachers, is to write and publish a “Compendium of tests to help the Bulgarian language teacher of refugees”. The collection should include extended dialogues and texts on the topics covered in textbooks A2, B1. The compendium should be aimed at teachers working with higher levels.