7Ling is now available, a multilingual mobile application (app) for migrants and refugees, developed by a consortium of 12 European and Egyptian universities, which includes the University of Coimbra (UC).
Totally free, this app, available for Android operating systems, was created as part of the XCELING project (Towards Excellence in Applied Linguistics. Innovative Second Language Education in Egipt), which aims to train Egypt in the area of foreign language teaching through innovation in the field of teaching methodologies, the development of research in linguistics applied to the teaching of non-native languages and the transfer of knowledge to groups with special needs, through the creation of freely accessible linguistic resources.
XCELING is financed by the European Erasmus + program and is based on three main dimensions, namely «TEACHING (training of trainers), LEARNING (pre-doctoral education) and EXTENSION TO THE COMMUNITY (creation of free-access teaching materials). It is precisely in this last dimension that this free app to support the learning of foreign languages by people in a socially disadvantaged situation fits ”, explains Cristina Martins, professor at the Faculty of Arts of UC and coordinator of the Portuguese team in the project.
7Ling aims mainly at «offering migrants and refugees, among others, the possibility to learn German, Spanish, French, English, Italian and Portuguese. It also includes translations in Arabic, to meet the needs of users who know this language. It is an application that presents itself as a tool at the service of language learning, at a time when, with the health crisis, support for virtual education becomes particularly relevant », highlights the researcher at the Center for Studies in General and Applied Linguistics at Coimbra University.
Essentially designed to satisfy the basic needs of users, this app is divided into thematic sections – newcomer, in the city, shopping, looking for accommodation, looking for a job, at the doctor – and contains training activities and several focused features in adapting to the environment: numbers and letters, vocabulary, administrative documents and procedures and socio-cultural information about host countries.
It is also a useful tool to “support teachers who are working with this type of students, because it allows them to consolidate linguistic structures and vocabulary autonomously”, says Cristina Martins, adding that, although it was designed for migrants and refugees, in reality , this app can be used by anyone.
In addition to the University of Coimbra, the consortium includes the University of Salamanca, University of Bologna, University of Heidelberg, University of Poitiers, Trinity College Dublin, University of Alexandria, University of Cairo, University of Helwan, University of Pharos, University of Minia and Luxor University.