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Jul 2, 2019

Asylum Seekers Complete E.S.L. Course

The United Nations Commission of Human Rights held a short ceremony on Monday for twenty-three asylum seekers who completed the English as a Second Language course.  The UNHCR offers asylum seekers the opportunity to take E.S.L. classes in an effort to help them integrate into their new communities.  Here’s more in the following story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Twenty-three asylum seekers, through the UNHCR, completed eight weeks of English language classes at the Regional Language Center at the University of Belize. The UNCHR says mastering English as a second language is an important part of any refugee transition into a new country because it allows them to communicate, as well as to pursue their academic studies.


Joseph Hendrix

Joseph Hendrix, Programme Unit, UNHCR

“It is an important element to feel at home here, to integrate, and to communicate. This is a special event because English is a second language in preparation of people who want to further their studies. They were doing their studies in the country where they come from, mostly El Salvador or they are planning to go into educational levels. And, of course, since we are in an English speaking country that can only be done in the English language. So, we brought this contingent of people – twenty-three – up to the level of B2 which allows them to go to either high school or university; or as was mentioned, see if we can get them involved in the center for employment training through the ITVET scheme in Belize to get into the vocational skills training program.”


One of the refugees didn’t know any words in the English language before he started the course. But he, like the other participants, was committed to the course and on Monday, he received his English as a Second Language certificate.


Voice of: Refugee, Graduate, UNHCR English Programme

“When I started this English course, I didn’t know anything about English. I have been learning little by little and day after day. It has been a great experience for me. I have been learning a lot in this English course. I now have new friends and classmates. I am now able to speak English and this makes me happy because I never thought I will be here today. I feel happy.”


Lugie Cruz

Lugie Cruz, R.L.C. Director, University of Belize

“When there is a motivation and you want to acquire a language, I think it shows evidently in the classroom; in simple things like not missing classes often but participating and working along with the instructor to reach your goal. I think that is one difference. Like I said, it is an optimum situation for an instructor when he meets a group of students that do need language training but are also motivated in acquiring the language.”


The UNHCR says that learning the English language will benefit the individuals and their families, as well as the wider community in which they live.


Joseph Hendrix

“They are able to communicate in the language where most people communicate, be it on the streets, in the shop, be it in the education setting. It also allows them to express that they do have goals. They do have the ambition to reach somewhere in life. It shows to them and their families who are proud of them. It also shows they can contribute. As my colleague said, famous psychologist Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein were refugees so there is always potential for them to contribute. But I think it very much establishes that pride in themselves to know their goals and to work on their ambition, in the end to establish a dignified life for their friends and their family and to contribute to the environment in which they are living.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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