Dialogues for Integration: Hamburg Libraries Help Refugees Find their Way

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  • Public
As a key part of the city’s ‘Refugee Help Forum’, the Hamburg Public Library System, Bücherhallen Hamburg, joined forces with the as the Volkshochschule adult education centre to support refugee language acquisition. Bücherhallen Hamburg do this through their ‘Dialog in Deutsch’ volunteer project, which is the largest volunteer language acquisition project in Hamburg. Through 109 conversation groups across 33 libraries, refugees and migrants are able to apply and practice their German speaking skills.

Project description

The groups are open and free of charge and are currently run by around 270 volunteers; no enrolment or registration is required. The ‘Dialog in Deutsch’ volunteers do not give language lessons, do not hold tests but rather gives topics to discuss during a ‘Dialog in Deutsch’ session to enhance oral skills.
Every year around 40,000 participants, from all migrant backgrounds benefit from the ‘Dialog in Deutsch’ conversation groups. In order to meet the dramatic increase in demand from refugees and migrants, 25 groups especially for beginners had been added in 2016 and 2017. To support language acquisition, the library also expanded its media collection to include books for children and young adult in Arabic, boxes of games, dictionaries, board books, and other materials for learning German. In addition, the library introduced a scheme using donations to allow refugees to gain access to varied library e-media services and WiFi. This provides a key means of keeping in contact with family and friends, especially given that many accommodation facilities do not have WiFi access.
Meanwhile, 600 professionally trained and supervised volunteers work in the Bücherhallen and play a key role in integrating refugees in other areas.

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