Rosetta Stone and HIAS Renew Partnership
By Brian Zumhagen
Jun 21, 2023
Just in time for this week’s observance of World Refugee Day, Rosetta Stone and HIAS have renewed their partnership to provide language learning software to refugees and the staff and hosts who assist them. The partnership began in 2019, when Rosetta Stone first made 1,500 one-year licenses available to resettled refugee populations, and to HIAS’ affiliate network staff and volunteers, giving them free access to lessons in all 25 languages on the Rosetta Stone mobile app.
At a time when the UN’s latest annual Global Trends report found 108.4 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2022 — with recent fighting, especially in Sudan, pushing the total to an estimated 110 million as of this May — it is more important than ever for refugees and the people who work for and with HIAS to have “the necessary language skills to navigate everyday situations and communicate effectively,” said Raphael Marcus, HIAS’ senior vice president for programs.
“These licenses have provided our program participants with a valuable tool to bridge the language gap and fully integrate into their new communities,” Marcus continued. “The highly relevant course content equips our program participants with the necessary language skills to navigate everyday situations and communicate effectively in their new surroundings. This empowers them to interact with neighbors, seek employment opportunities, and access vital services, fostering a greater sense of belonging and independence.”
It was an easy decision to extend the partnership after hearing about the positive impact that Rosetta Stone had on HIAS’ community, according to Jennifer Gu, Chief Operating Officer at IXL Learning, Rosetta Stone’s parent company. “The world is facing extraordinary challenges, but that shouldn’t discourage us from believing that we can make a difference,” she said. “While solving the refugee crisis will require collective action, we are in a position to use education as a powerful tool to assist those in need… and we hope this collaboration gives refugees the strong start they need to thrive in their new homes.”
"The highly relevant course content equips our program participants with the necessary language skills to navigate everyday situations and communicate effectively in their new surroundings."
Raphael Marcus, HIAS’ Senior Vice President for Programs
The most popular languages among all HIAS learners — staff and clients alike — are English, French, German, Spanish, and Arabic. Meiron Avidan, integration coordinator for HIAS Europe, said she was learning French and using the app to speak with colleagues and engage with beneficiaries in Brussels. “Rosetta Stone helps me to have a good overview of key conversations, and I think the lessons are structured well,” she said. “I like that I can practice in my own time and at my own pace.”
The partnership is also benefiting staff at affiliates in HIAS’ resettlement network. Patrick Fogarty, Case Worker for Refugee Services at Jewish Family Services of Western New York in Buffalo, said, “I primarily work with Ukrainian immigrants, so using Rosetta Stone for Russian has really helped me with my clients.” Fogarty added that clients really appreciate it when he can communicate with them in one of their native languages, and it helps him connect with the refugees on a deeper level than just using an interpreter.
“I previously learned Russian while I was in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, but it has been many years since I’ve practiced speaking Russian regularly,” Fogarty said. “I am so grateful for Rosetta Stone as it has helped me to regain the speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills I once had.”
Alexandra Sánchez, sub office coordinator at HIAS Colombia, is using the platform to improve her English. “I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to participate in the Rosetta Stone program, which has allowed me to strengthen my skills and obtain technical concepts, facilitating my work with other colleagues,” she said. “The platform is quite easy to access, and at the pace I have been advancing, I have been able to motivate myself much more to continue learning and strengthening my conversational area in the English language.”
Sánchez added: “Thank you very much HIAS and Rosetta Stone for this opportunity!”