March 05, 2024

Slovak lesson with Amalka

The third successful program of Cesta von is the language support program Amal, which mainly develops communication skills in the Slovak language among mothers and parents from the communities, also thanks to the connection of people from the majority and minority who might otherwise never meet. The mother tongue of most Omamas and families in the Omama program is Romani. It is the language with which they grow up, which they speak at home and in which they can express themselves best. However, Omamas conduct lessons in the Slovak language, mainly so that young children are in close contact with Slovak before they start kindergarten/school.


Let's start from the beginning

Five years ago, when the first omamas in their communities started visiting families, one of the important prerequisites for successfully conducting lessons with children and their parents was the ability to read the Omama manual, understand the content of the activities and communicate them correctly to the children and their parents - in other words, reading comprehension. People from marginalized Roma communities are not the only group that has difficulties in this area. However, these are highlighted by the fact that Slovak is not their first language. The Amal program was created as a response to requests from the field - to strengthen omamas in the Slovak language. Gradually, several additional women from the communities joined - mothers of children from the Omama program and families from the FILIP program. There are specially designed lessons for them with a slightly different content than those for omamas.

Amal is a friend

Amal means friend in the Romani language. The intention of the creators of this program was to teach Slovak in the form of group and individual lessons. Since the program was created during the pandemic, tuning into the online space was a logical step. Omamas join the lessons realized via Zoom. At the beginning of the week, they attend a group lesson with a lecturer, and later during the week they review the content of the lesson with Amalka (volunteer) - a woman from the majority. Thanks to the one-on-one class, there are more opportunities to talk, to ask questions and to clarify ambiguities, for example in grammar. Every Omama has her own Amalka, with whom she learns and talks. Language ceases to be a goal, but becomes a means for understanding, building relationships or strengthening individuals. Connecting people from the majority and excluded communities and their worlds is a pleasant and rewarding by-product of this concept.

Slovak as an opportunity

A large number of omamas have been involved in the Amal program since the beginning of their entry into Cesta von. During the last 3 years, the program was stabilized, it was given a uniform form and structure. Each year, two language cycles with 17 lessons take place. During the lessons, the Omama manual is used, grammar and vocabulary are repeated, and sometimes role plays are played to practice situations at the post office, at the doctor's office, at the bank, etc. Omamas involved in the language support program repeatedly emphasize that it helps them not only at work, but also in their personal lives - they have more confidence in situations where Slovak is necessary - communication with authorities, institutions and they know how to help their own children with school assignments.

Challenges and changes

Currently, 32 female students (24 Omamas and 8 women from the communities) and 28 Amal women are involved in the Amal program (not all women from the communities are assigned an Amalka due to time and capacity reasons). Until last month, all class records such as evaluation, class record, attendance and other data were recorded and stored on a shared disk in the so-called Amal notebook, which is a fancy name for a shared Excel document. Materials for teaching Slovak were also available at the same place. With almost 40 Amal women and people from the Amal team, using shared documents is an inefficient way to work, as the program team and the Amal women found out almost every week. They encountered problems such as overwriting course materials when someone did not notice that they were editing the original and not the downloaded version on their computer, unexpectedly denied access or marking attendance in the wrong row - for another student. With the expected growth of the program from this year, working in the above mentioned way would be even more ineffective. That's why Cesta von and the program team of the Amal program approached Inuko to create the Amal app.

This application is intended for lecturers to record the course of lessons, their content and attendance. Amalky will also use it to save recordings of their lessons, upload photos and share interesting teaching materials. Thanks to the structure of the application, the program team can more easily obtain data on the number of female students, on participation in classes or on the course of individual lessons. It is also a great benefit to be able to add announcements and events and thus eliminate the number of emails sent to Amalka.
says Jana Pavlík Funková, program manager of the Amal program.

Photo from class

The application will be launched in full operation already in the first half of March with the beginning of the next cycle.