UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Reducing language barriers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Students' interviews

Title details

SN: 853166
Title: Reducing language barriers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Students' interviews
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-853166
Depositor: Yasmine El Masri, University of Oxford
Principal investigator(s): El Masri, Y, University of Oxford
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council
Global Challenges Research Fund
Grant number: ES/P009980/1


The citation for this study is:

El Masri, Y. (2018). Reducing language barriers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Students' interviews. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 853166,

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Abstract copyright data collection owner.

The data was collected in May 2017 visits to a private school and a learning centre Valley in Lebanon serving deprived communities and receiving Syrian refugee children in the Bekaa. The data consists of transcripts of interviews carried out with 34 Lebanese and Syrian refugee Year 6 students and two Year 7 students. The interviews were carried out in English and Arabic dialect (Lebanese and Syrian). The data was collected following the ethical guidelines of the University of Oxford and the Funder. Interviews took place on a one-to-one basis, in pairs of students and in groups and aimed to identify particular challenges students faced when solving the questions.

Lebanon has absorbed over half a million registered school-aged Syrian refugees in its unequipped state schools since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011; however, the foreign language of instruction of maths and science has disengaged young Syrian migrants, hampering their progression. The poor proficiency of Syrian migrants in English or French, the media of maths and science instruction in Lebanon, has pushed many to drop out from schools and join the labour force at a very young age. Indeed, the foreign language of maths and science instruction is already controversial in Lebanon as it also marginalises underprivileged Lebanese youth and incites many to leave school before completing compulsory education. In this project, I will collaborate with two Lebanese NGOs, Lebanese Alternative Learning (LAL) and Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT)-Lebanon, who work directly with Syrian refugees in state schools to provide interactive tasks in maths and science in three languages (English, French and Arabic) through an existing online platform called Tabshoura. I will engage in knowledge exchange with both NGOs by applying a framework based on my DPhil and more recent research to evaluate the quality of translation and design of existing Year 6 to 9 science tasks and offer guidance for material improvement. Moreover, a sample of Year 6 students will be interviewed using elicitation techniques to investigate translation and design issues of the online interactive tasks. Findings will inform the construction of improved exemplar tasks that the NGO could adopt as models for the development of new material. In return, the invaluable experience of the NGOs in using technology to meet the education needs of underprivileged youth in Lebanon will be essential for me to gain a deep understanding of the context and achieve impact. Moreover, I will contribute to capacity building in schools by offering workshops for practitioners focusing on task design and raising their awareness to specific language issues in task development. Insight and findings of this project will be disseminated through conference presentations, a comprehensive report and a sole-authored journal article as well as a policy dialogue in Beirut and a seminar in Oxford. This ESRC GCRF fellowship will be an excellent opportunity to promote my academic profile by disseminating my DPhil research in seminars and conferences to a wide academic and non-academic audience; expanding my publication record and developing a sole-authored peer-reviewed journal article; consolidating my research portfolio by acquiring new qualitative techniques; and broadening my international network to include the Arabic speaking world. More importantly, this fellowship will allow me to apply my DPhil and more recent research in a new context and engage with non-academic users such as students, practitioners, schools, teachers and national and international NGOs to achieve a wider impact in the provision of quality education to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 22 April 2017 - 13 May 2017
Dates of fieldwork: 09 January 2017 - 08 January 2018
Country: Lebanon
Geography: Bekaa valley, Lebanon
Observation units: Groups
Kind of data: Textual
Method of data collection: The interviews were carried out in English and Arabic dialect (Lebanese and Syrian). Interviews took place on a one-to-one basis, in pairs of students and in groups. Interview questions were based on the interview schedule enclosed as a documentation file. Students were asked to solve questions on the platform (see PDF version of the tasks in English_Platform tasks) and then the researcher probed students on questions they found easy/challenging, difficult terms, how helpful or unhelpful they found the photos, videos, feedback. The researcher also asked students to describe photos and videos (see interview schedule for exemplar questions) and occasionally encouraged them to think aloud while solving questions they responded to incorrectly.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 25 April 2018
Latest edition: 25 April 2018 (minor amendments only)
Copyright: Nayla Fahed, Lebanese Alternative Learning NGO
Access conditions: The Data Collection is available to any user without the requirement for registration for download/access.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Yasmine El Masri, University of Oxford


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