Intercultural Language Service

What is Intercultural Language Service?

ILS resizedILS provides a flexible ‘drop-in model’ that assesses, supports and empowers socially-excluded adult migrants, who otherwise have no access to education, to improve their English to CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) levels B1/B2. This level means that a person has enough English to actively participate in society.  The service is currently free of charge and allows migrants to avail of classes whenever their personal timetable allows it – many migrants work shifts or long hours, or are care-givers making it hard to access traditional classes. It incorporates a round table learning model (Harkness Method) and a targeted language portfolio to empower people to become more socially integrated and part of Irish society. Alongside this ILS runs an Inner-city Intercultural Storytelling project which promotes migrant literacy and build community with local people. A typical term is three months in duration.


Tell us a little about yourself and what motivates you to see your project succeed?

sheekey photoIt is perhaps no accident that I ended up working with migrants – my parents spent ten years working and living in the north of England to escape the crippling recession here in the 1950s and I was born there. Though I spent only 3 short years before we returned to Ireland, my parents carried home with them the impact of those years. I was later to follow in their steps during another recession in the 1980s when I moved first to Switzerland and later to Milan for a period of 15 years. During this time, I worked as a language teacher and teacher trainer in state schools, employing music, drama and poetry to help teachers and young learners connect with language in a more immediate and varied way.When I finally returned to Dublin in 2003, net immigration was at its highest and I started working with marginalised refugee learners at Integrate Ireland, the official state language provider and a Trinity college centre of excellence in English language provision and research. Following this  as part of a PHD I detailed research of the lived language socialisation experiences with marginalised learners at an intercultural dropin centre in Tallaght. From the insights I gleaned during this study, I created a drop-in centre in the north inner-city. Dublin

What will Engage and Educate Award do for your project?

This academic year we provided approx. 100,000 Euro in language and social orientation training. We can be on target to double that for the Autumn 2018. The fund will enable us to open a second school in early 2018, and part of the funding will go toward the rent of this premises and to pay a qualified, part-time coordinator. The fund will also help us set up other intercultural, intercommunity storytelling projects and pay the printing costs of publishing a book of these biographical stories co-written by migrants and locals. Also, the fund will help us set up computer lessons to develop digital literacy for our learners and expand our activities into other community-oriented courses to promote social inclusion and personal development for our clients. The fund will also help us cover some day-to-day expenses such as stationary, whiteboards and markers, refreshments for clients, etc. Some of the fund will also help us to promote the service and attract more students, volunteers and make our service more visible in the migrant language provision landscape and among other complementary service providers who refer clients to our classes.