Fáilte Isteach is a community-based project involving predominantly older volunteers welcoming migrants through free conversational English classes. The project was established by Third Age in October 2006 in response to the observed daily difficulties that migrants were experiencing integrating into the local community through a poor understanding or lack of English. Following its success as a pilot project in a small rural community, Fáilte Isteach was launched nationally in 2008. From the inaugural class involving 12 volunteer tutors and 7 students, Fáilte Isteach has grown its current 85 groups with 850 volunteer tutors supporting 2,500 migrant students to integrate and thrive.
The Fáilte Isteach team supports local organisations and individuals to set up and coordinate a conversational English class in their local community. All of the necessary training and teaching material is provided to establish a group and ongoing support, refresher training and updated resources are made available to groups nationwide. Each of our 85 groups has a team of volunteers who deliver the classes on a weekly basis and who are supported locally by a coordinator.
The classes are student-centred and tailored to meet the participants’ needs, many of whom are experiencing difficulties integrating into Irish society, a challenge which is exasperated by a lack of English. However, improved language skills, better comprehension, better communication skills, increased confidence and esteem have resulted in improvements in both the working and social lives of our students. Other benefits include improved social skills, increased networks and social contacts, better employment prospects, and increased participation in community life.