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Spanish classes for Ukrainian refugees

A professor and several students from the University, through Tantaka, have set up volunteer activities to teach Spanish to refugees who have arrived in Pamplona.

FotoManuelCastells/Teachers and students of group of volunteer activities of teaching of Spanish for refugees. From left to right, Carmen Nagore, Eduardo Negueruela, Irati Araiz, Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz, Ana Pestano, Izaro Díaz, Kateryna Dudko.

05 | 04 | 2022

More than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Navarre since the war began, according to estimates by the regional government. Among the many challenges they face in integrating, learning Spanish is one of them. 

With this goal, Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz, professor of the School of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Navarra, in partnership with Izaro Díaz, student of Philology; Ana Pestano, student of Education and Philosophyand Kateryna Dudko, student of Education and Psychology, has set up a volunteer activities of teaching of Spanish to refugees, through Tantaka. Thirty-five university students are currently participating in the initiative.

language The project has also involved the students of the Master's Degree in teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language (MELE) of the high school of language and Spanish Culture (ILCE), who will train the volunteers so that they acquire the basic notions for the teaching of our language.

Classes started this week, with more than 50 students, adults and children. Teacher Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz explains how the initiative came about: "A Ukrainian couple, Tamara and Vasyl, who settled in Pamplona twenty years ago, are close friends of my family. In the early days of the war, they managed to bring their daughter-in-law and two of their granddaughters, aged 4 and 6, here, and Tamara asked me if I knew anyone who could give them class of Spanish. I asked at Tantaka, the association of volunteer activities of the University, and I asked financial aid directly to two students, Izaro and Ana, who loved the idea and spread the word among their classmates through social networks. Within an hour there were more than 30 willing students".

In order to channel all this financial aid, Tantaka asked Pamplona City Council to provide some classrooms at the high school Iturrama Public School. "The director of high school welcomed the idea with great enthusiasm and has referred the families who have just started school to us", explains Álvaro Sánchez-Ostiz.

First day of Spanish classes with refugees

Volunteers with training

The volunteers are receiving training from the students of Master's Degree at teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language language of the academic centre. "They have had a workshop to design a content plan, differentiated objectives for groups of children and adults, materials that we teachers can use, basic teaching strategies... We needed a minimum of knowledge to really help the families: it is about teaching Spanish for "immediate needs", so that the older children can get by while they are in Spain and the children who are going to school have extra support", she points out.

The initiative to offer training came from ILCE teacher Silvia Aguinaga, with the participation of students Irati Araiz, Carmen Nagore, Sarah Gielink, Leah Rogstad, Mariana González, María Vázquez, Adela Pardo, Henry Hinchey and Marta López-Tamés. In addition, ILCE has promoted the "Donate your book!" campaign among international students who are finishing their course now and whose Spanish books will be used by these families.

The volunteers who will give class Spanish courses will rotate, so new students and other interested people may join, especially from the last week of April, when the exams start. "I foresee that more families will sign up and we will need more volunteers to fill the gaps, especially in the adult groups during those three weeks," explains Sánchez-Ostiz. To collaborate, please write to Tantaka, who also coordinates the technical and legal aspects of the classes: