Welcome to the Czech Republic integration courses have been conducted by NGO Slovo 21, z.s., since 2012 when we launched pilot courses and testing methodology, created first brochures and Welcome to the Czech Republic film in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). All materials have been created in cooperation with teams of experts from the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic, civil society and foreigners themselves. We began training lecturers and interpreters to make sure course terminology is rendered correctly and they help us to transform the complicated legalese into a language that foreigners would find easy to understand.
Until 2015, integration courses ran in the pilot mode; we were testing methodology and training lecturers and interpreters. In 2014 and 2015, we organized 35 courses for 508 participants. In 2016, the number of courses grew to 92, for 1,488 participants. By mid-June 2017, we have conducted over 50 courses for approx. 900 people.
By mid-2017, the total number of courses has reached 180 with the total number of participants from all over the world reaching 3,000. We have trained teams of lecturers who specialize in social affairs and law. We have trained teams of interpreters into 8 languages. Welcome to the Czech Republic brochure and a film of the same name, translated into 8 languages, is available for course participants.
Integration courses are taught by certified lecturers from integration centres and NGOs only. Most lecturers are qualified social workers or lawyers who can provide reliable relevant information in accordance with valid laws of the Czech Republic. Trainings for lecturers are focused on teaching skills also, to make sure that these experts can pass information that would be easy to understand and remember onto the participants. We also work with some intercultural workers who can ensure that social and legal information is provided to foreigners in a way that would be easy to understand given the social and cultural context of the country of origin. Lecturers describe daily life in the Czech Republic and the region where the course participants live, and explain Czech traditions and customs.
Over 100 lecturers have been trained in all parts of the Czech Republic so far. After the training, lecturers are required to take a test of social and legal knowledge created in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and supervision of expert and lecturing skills. Only then do they receive a certificate which makes them eligible to teach integration courses. Lecturers are supervised to ensure quality of their teaching.
Integration courses may be interpreted only by certified interpreters, as our goal is to provide foreigners with precise terminology. Terminology of law regulating residence of foreigners is very precise and shifts in meaning are not tolerated; for example, visa may not be confused with long-term residence permit or the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior is not the same as Foreigner Police Service. Foreigners often do that but such mistakes cannot be made during an official integration course because they could get a foreigner in trouble. Interpreters are also trained in community interpreting. Often, the difficult part is not translating words but the context which could be different for many of the foreigners. An interpreter should be able to explain to foreigners what is different compared to social and cultural environment in the country of origin.
WELCOME TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC – BROCHURE AND DOCUMENTARY
Welcome to the Czech Republic film and brochure are intended for citizens of non-EU countries who came to the Czech Republic for a longer stay. Their purpose is to provide basic information about life in the Czech Republic to foreigners that they would know their rights and duties well.
Radim Špaček’s film contains important information about the life of foreigners who came to the Czech Republic, as well as basic socio-cultural orientation in Czech society. Scenes, which are typical for the given situation, feature the main character and other foreigners living in the Czech Republic and coming from various socio-cultural environments. The original language of the film was Czech and it was dubbed in English, Russian, Ukrainian, French, Vietnamese, Mongolian and Arabic. We are working on the Spanish version to be released in 2017. This film tries to provide basic information about routine daily life grievances of any citizen in an easy and funny way, and it teaches the audience about national symbols, Czech traditions and interesting places in the Czech Republic. The film describes basic rights and duties of foreigners living in the Czech Republic, and it is included in the curriculum of every integration course in accordance with the approved methodology.
The brochure contains detailed information provided during the integration courses such as legislation regulating residence, employment and business in the Czech Republic, system of education, health care, health and social insurance, housing, daily life situations etc. It also includes contact details of Czech institutions – Ministry of the Interior, regional offices of Foreigner Police Service, as well as contact details of organizations which provide assistance to foreigners free of charge – integration centres from all over the Czech Republic and NGOs. The brochure has been translated into English, Russian, Ukrainian, French, Vietnamese, Arabic and Mongolian. We are working on the Spanish version to be released in 2017. The brochure will be distributed amongst participants during Welcome to the Czech Republic course. Given how often legislation changes and the brochure gets updated, it is not available for free download. The brochure can be obtained in the updated printed form only.