Good practices

Failte Isteach – welcoming migrants through conversational English classes

Failte Isteach – welcoming migrants through conversational English classes

Fáilte Isteach is a community project involving predominantly older volunteers welcoming migrants through conversational English classes but to the 104 communities it impacts across Ireland, Fáilte Isteach classes are so much more.

The groups provide a space for those who are isolated to connect; for perspectives to evolve; for attitudes to change. The informal, relaxed approach to learning allows the most marginalised in our society to engage with others and truly integrate into life in Ireland.

The classes improve language and reduce loneliness for over 3200 migrants, allowing for long-lasting, authentic community integration. Classes salute the often overlooked potential of 1200 older volunteers who make Fáilte Isteach a reality.

Fáilte Isteach was established in October 2006 by Third Age in response to the observed daily difficulties that new 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 late 2008. From the inaugural class in Summerhill involving 12 volunteer tutors and 7 students, Fáilte Isteach has now grown to 127 groups in 104 locations, with over 1,200 volunteer tutors who support the integration of 3,200 migrant students by delivering over 96,000 hours of free tuition annually.

Year(s): Ongoing

Target group(s): Older people and non English speaking migrants to Ireland

Website or other online channels:


Fáilte Isteach involves predominantly older volunteers welcoming migrants through conversational English Classes. 


Fáilte Isteach embraces a relaxed, unstructured learning environment. The classes are tutored entirely by volunteers who are encouraged to welcome participants to their community through language; identify needs through conversation and focus primarily on fluency and building confidence. Flexible classes allow volunteers to support participants in their immediate language requirements while offering a warm welcome. 

Type of product

Paper-based material Online resource Course / Training

Brief description of the outcomes

Fáilte Isteach is a community based conversational English class. Classes are an informal space to practice and improve your language, as well as a way to meet new people living in your community.


Fáilte Isteach classes are free and are open to all. All levels of English are welcome. Fáilte Isteach tutors are all volunteer tutors and classes are conversational and not formal English classes. There is no curriculum or set modules. Classes are informed by learners and what is most immediate for the group in terms of topics.


  • to provide the necessary language skills to migrants in a student-centred, welcoming and inclusive manner.

  • to establish a network of Fáilte Isteach groups in communities throughout Ireland.

  • to involve older volunteer tutors and recognise their skills, expertise and contribution to the community.

  • to promote greater integration and achieve a new sense of community spirit, by forging new friendships and facilitating learning among and about different cultures.

Impact on target groups / Transferability potential

Sample students comments made on the impact of the work : 

  • “I have learned the alphabet, both lower case and capitals” 

  • “I can now write words” 

  • “I learned pronunciation” 

  • “I learned more spelling and listening” 

  • “I learned to speak many words and to explain and understand more verbs” 

  • “I learned about making a shopping list for food, and calling people on the telephone” 

  • “I am very happy that I can give good directions. I have more confidence when I speak. I learned to speak and have a much better conversation, and now I am able to speak more. This is good for me because it is helping me a lot in my work place” 

  • “I am now very happy that I can read a letter, newspaper, and I can speak to my Irish co-workers and customers in my job. I have more confidence when I am going shopping, because when I have a question I can speak to them” 

  • “I am now very happy that I can get used to living in Ireland and am enjoying my life. I have more confidence when I speak with my friends because I like talking” 

  • “I have more confidence when I speak with people on the street or in a restaurant because in the class I get practice. I am not afraid any more. I am very happy that I can speak English and go to places where I didn’t go before, like a theatre” 

  • “The teaching has been great, it has really boosted my confidence especially for when I meet Irish people outside [of] here” 

  • “I'm speaking out in the group now, I never used to” 

  • “When you think back to where I was when I started and to where my tutor has brought me” 

  • “They [the classes] gave me a lot of confidence” 

  • “It helps me with my child’s work from school.” 

  • “It was great getting to know all the other students and I’ll miss it” 

  • “I got to know all the things local going for Brazilians in the area and around ... wasn’t part of it before the classes but am a part of it now” 

  • “I have learned new things, made new friends and I have really got some fun” 



The concept is simple and is a great way of including two often marginalised groups in a mutually beneifical activity. 

Promoter of the initiative: Third Age

Country: Ireland

Languages available: English

Website or other online channels:


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