The In-Habit Nitra H2020 project in cooperation with the civic association Mareena held a summer course of the Slovak language for beginners in Nitra. The course was ceremoniously concluded with the presentation of certificates for successful graduates. There were 20 participants in the course, 15 of them managed to complete the course with a certificate.
The participants came from Ukraine (13), Russia (2), India (1), USA (1), Iran (1), Portugal (1) and Italy (1). The training was led by an experienced lecturer from the Civic Association Mareena. The NGO has long been dedicated to the creation of integrated educational programs for foreigners in Slovakia. Mareena develops an open society-wide discussion on the topics of migration, integration and their challenges.
Language is the key to successful integration, not only in the labor market. It is a tool for establishing relations with the local population and an opportunity to understand cultural specifics. In order to speed up the process of integration, improvement in communication in the Slovak is necessary. “The term integration of foreigners hides real and concrete stories of women, men and children that take place in specific cities, villages, neighborhoods, blocks of flats, and neighborhoods. And it is through daily interactions with the local community that help foreigners to become a full part of the local society. Mastering the Slovak language is key in the whole process,” says Miriama Bošelová, manager of integration activities of the civic association Mareena in Nitra.
Miriam also describes the main challenges associated with the organization of such an educational program. “One of the main challenges of this language course was that the group was mixed with participants from Slavic and non-Slavic countries. Working with each of these groups has its own specifics and approaches. People from Ukraine and Russia sometimes had an easier starting position than the participants, e.g. from India, USA or Portugal. At the same time, it was a diverse group of people who live in Slovakia for more than a year or, on the contrary, only a few weeks.
Despite these challenges, however, all participants made exceptional progress, improved their communication in Slovak. The improvement was mostly visible in situations they encounter in everyday life – especially when visiting doctors, various offices, schools, etc. During the lessons, they covered topics they normally encounter – basic phrases, introducing yourself and your family, visiting doctors, buying food, etc. They mastered syntax in basic communication phrases, conjugation of verbs, genders of nouns, formation of the plural, modal verbs, accusative and instrumental.
The feedback from the course participants was very positive. They appreciated the opportunity to improve their Slovak language, learn new words and grammar. They would welcome a longer duration of the course and the division of groups according to language affinity (Slavic and non-Slavic). Most of the course participants said that the course was very useful for them. They said that they improved their grammar, that they understood the structure of the language and that they will be able to start communicating in Slovak.
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