Start Progressive Learning in a New Culture (START)

Published on: 28/01/2011

START Progressive Learning in a New Culture is a training programme, an outcome of the MigrantICT project, designed to attract migrants into education opportunities and stimulate their integration in a new country. It aims to support those who move to the UK and Ireland by introducing them to the new culture, upgrading their ICT skills, mapping their qualifications and assisting them with job seeking and education opportunities.

It has been developed taking into account the needs and interest of migrant learners, identified through a survey of Polish and Lithuanian nationals living in Ireland and the UK.

The programme gives learners an opportunity to have their prior qualifications recognised, access basic skills tuition including ESOL, gain competences in ICT and web 2.0 technologies, which can support the interaction both in the new country and country of origin, and prepare for and encourage them to progress in lifelong learning within the national adult education provision.

The START programme relies on andragogical principles and the importance of mutual cultural awareness of both the tutor and the learner. It consists of four modules which can be used on their own or as an entire programme of four modules, depending on the learner needs. Moreover, learners are supported with learning material in both their native languages (Polish and Lithuanian) and in English.

The Programme’s materials use bilingual learner materials in English/Polish and English/Lithuanian. This helps to improve the English language of adult learners. IT skills are embedded in all parts of the programme.

The START programme was developed and delivered by five partners within four European countries who collaborated in the Migrant ICT project. These partners were: FIT Ltd (Ireland), Co. Meath VEC (Ireland), PIAP (Poland), NALMA (Lithuania) and South Eastern Regional College (UK). There is a great potential for the Migrant ICT model to be used widely in the adult education sector across Ireland and the UK.

Policy Context

With the growing population of people from new EU member states in Ireland and the UK it became obvious that these people make a new market group for many service provides. The education sector is one of the most important ones that must address the specific needs of these new communities. The Migrant ICT project was conceived as a way of integrating migrants into a new culture and also as a means of helping them to develop IT skills and secure a relevant job or go on to further education. The products and results of this project are of particular interest to adult education authorities and providers, tutors and guidance counsellors working in the education centres and in the community. There is a great potential in the Migrant ICT model to be used widely in the adult education sector across Ireland and the UK. The START programme is the project’s training programme.

Description of target users and groups

Migrant job seekers and adult learners that find themselves distant from the labour market. This project is also aimed at adult education authorities and providers, tutors and guidance counsellors working in education centres and in the community.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

This programme consists of four bilingual modules developed specifically for migrants from Poland and Lithuania to the UK and Ireland.

  • Module One: Cultural Exchange

Trainers and students learn about each others’ cultures - Tips & practical advice for migrants arriving in the UK & Ireland - Bilingual materials available in Lithuanian/English & Polish/English - Module tailored to either Ireland or the UK covering local culture & information about services in each country

  • Module Two: e-Cert

CT course - Starts at basic level but can be adjusted for a more advanced student - Incorporates social networking - Bilingual materials available in Lithuanian/English & Polish/English

  • Module Three: Mapping Qualifications

Can I use my qualifications here? - Compares educational systems - Bilingual materials available in Lithuanian/English & Polish/English - Module tailored to either Irish or UK education system & qualifications

  • Module Four: What’s Next?

Create a C.V. - Cover letters - Prepare for job interviews - Look at new education opportunities - Bilingual materials available in Lithuanian/English & Polish/English - Module tailored to either Ireland or the UK further education & career choices.

The key characteristics of the START Curricula are:

  • Flexibility – the curricula provides a suite of modules and resources that can be delivered as a whole programme or separate modules. At the beginning of each module learners can be introduced to its content and might prioritise areas of interest that will be covered during the training sessions.
  • ESOL embedded – programme helps learners to improve their language skills while delivering information related to their lives and work. Bilingual learning manuals help learners with poor language skills fully participate in the course.
  • Mutual cultural awareness of the tutor and the learner. The programme and tools give tutors an appreciation of the migrants’ culture and needs. This can be accomplished through the programme materials but also by participation in cultural visits to the origin countries of the learners.
  • ICT embedded – digital competency should be developed throughout the whole programme, not solely the ICT module. A combination of ICT tools and resources might support the delivery of the learning material and the learners’ activities.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Education bodies, training centres and community groups find the START modules beneficial in supporting migrants who are looking to learn new skills and find work in the UK and Ireland.

Tutors are also supported in gaining insights into the culture of the migrant learner’s country of origin through the Tutor Induction Programme.

Tutors believe that START has provided a useful learning experience and complements the existing community-based support within the country. The course materials which are available in various languages are clear and concise, providing clear sign-posting to existing physical or virtual information sites and services.

Tutors who participated in the Cultural Induction Programme said that it made them aware of what students have to leave behind and the pressures they face adapting to a new way of life with new surroundings and cultures. They felt that the experience has been very worthwhile and they have acquired a better understanding of the backgrounds of the considerable number of students both in Lithuania and Poland.

On the other hand; the students have the opportunity to include the cert into their CV, which will be beneficial as they try to get a better job. They may receive their diploma from their own country, recognised then in the UK.

Track record of sharing

To download free resources, tutors and learners should go to:

Lessons learnt

Learning Environment Management English will not be the learners’ first language so the learners should feel free to:

  • Help each other by translating instructions and discussions as required
  • Use dictionaries (soft and hard copy)
  • Feel free to ask for further explanation and examples to highlight what is being explained.

This means the tutor should:

  • Use simple language where possible and only use jargon when necessary
  • Allow interruption at anytime, which may not be directly pointed at them but amongst the learners (this may appear as though the learners are talking across the tutor when in fact they are supporting each other)
  • Avoid asking closed questions as these do not show the learner has understood the point. If the learner’s answer is “Yes” or “No”, ask “why?”
  • Be prepared to take a completely different approach if a topic or discussion is proving unsuccessful
  • Use as many different teaching styles and methods as possible in an effort to maximise the learners’ own learning experiences
  • Allow learners to work at their own pace.
  • Avoid over use of the lecturing style. In other words let the learners diversify in the same lesson. For example, one student may be researching employment rights while another is researching travel and tourism, or one student may be working on their CV while another is trying mock interviews.
Scope: National