Published: 23 Nov 2021  |  Category: Integration  |  Stage: We have welcomed a family

Experts by Experience: Abdullah’s driving tips

Learn how a Community Sponsored refugee was able to pass his driving tests after less than one year in the UK

Abdullah arrived in the UK as a Syrian refugee in 2017 with only a few words of English and was welcomed by the CHARIS Community Sponsorship Group in the South West. 10 months later, he had passed his theory and practical driving tests, giving him vital independence and freedom.

When he arrived in the UK, Abdullah had a valid Syrian driving licence, which he could drive with for one year before passing the UK driving test. Abdullah lives in a small town in the UK and very quickly realised that he needed a car as public transport beyond the town centre is limited so he knew that to continue driving he’d need to start concentrate on learning English and studying for the theory test right away. After two months in the UK, he began studying for three hours a day, at least three days per week for three months. Abdullah found that using a translation software developed for the theory test called ABEL Drive for Life helped to translate the questions into Arabic. This enabled him to read the questions in English and then listen in Arabic while he studied.

Abdullah remembers, “I passed the theory test second time around. It really helped during the test to wear headphones and listen to the questions as well as read them. This way if I didn’t recognise a word written down, I might understand it when I heard it. You have to request in advance if you want to listen to the test as well as read it. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s still learning English. To be clear – you can only listen to the test in English, not your first language.”

In addition to than studying for the theory test, Abdullah took 12 hours of driving lessons to get ready for the practical test where he would have to understand the examiners instructions. Driving lessons were not cheap so CHARIS applied for a grant from Goldman Sachs for £500 which covered all the lessons and tests. Abdullah has some advice for other refugees who would like to continue or begin driving in the UK: “To other refugees, remember that you will need to commit to this seriously and study hard. If you do the work, it’ll pay off. Don’t get down if you don’t pass first time, just keep working hard.”


Experts by Experience: Abdullah's Driving Experience [316.7KB] Download .PDF