STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) – Communication between Ukrainian refugees and their host families has become easier with the help of two students from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.
The students created a refugee dictionary to help people who don’t speak the same language to communicate. The dictionary consists of a collection of 124 everyday words and pictures to facilitate communication.
“So it’s English, Dutch, French, German, Russian and Ukrainian,” said Pamela Terrell, professor of communication science and disorders at UWSP.
The idea came from Professor Terrell’s Facebook group. Terrell said she met a German linguist online who wanted to create a way to talk to the refugees she was helping.
“And I said there was no need to reinvent the wheel. There is already software that we use in communication disorders for people who cannot communicate that we could use to support this project,” Terrell said.
The linguist gave the speech therapy students and their teacher a list of common words used by refugees.
“The Language Communication Chart is a file that contains 6 different languages, with common words and phrases. As well as pictures for people who speak different languages to communicate with each other,” said Breanna Wolter, a graduate student from the UWSP.
Breanna Wolter and her counterpart Morgan Knutson used the “Boardmaker” program to create the dictionary.
“We took the Excel document, then took the English word, then put it into ‘Boardmaker’ so we could get the picture of the word,” Wolter said.
The dictionary has a variety of words to choose from.
“The refugee dictionary has a bunch of different categories of food, clothing, baby-related words, and transportation,” Wolter said.
Wolter says being able to help is the most rewarding part.
“Just to be able to help them communicate, because it’s such a necessity and it really helps them feel connected and included,” Wolter said.
The students and the professor said they were grateful to be part of the project and to help the refugees in times of need.
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