With the holidays approaching, we want to thank you all for your support! Since we started this website, >110.000 phrasebooks have been printed, several apps were developed and new languages added. In the next month, we want to foster distribution and update the existing pdf versions in collaboration with refugees and helpers. Here are some impressions from the efforts so far: 


There are still many translations missing, but the current set is already a good basis. While the German translator community Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V. (BdÜ) is recommending the project to translators (thank you!), we are still looking for volunteers to help with the gaps in Armenian, Pashto and other languages.

Print and distribution

  • On Wikibooks, several printable versions have been published; for germany, italy, balkans, netherlands and others
  • With the help of Aufbau Verlag, Open Knowledge Greece and Wikimedia Germany, we were able to print and distribute >10.000 booklets on the Greek islands
  • The Croatian branch of the Swedish company Bisnode created a custom print version and printed 100.000 to be distributed at the borders (40.000 in Germany).
  • Local versions have been designed at several locations, including a phrasebook in Din A6 format made by Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel
  • An in-depth description of the challenging design process is provided by the WDKA Publishing station at Willem de Kooning Academy
  • The volunteer network german-alliance.org wants to further support distribution in 2016
  • Local initiatives are welcome to print pdf versions  listed on wikibooks or contact us for a custom version


While the first version of refugee phrasebook was still limited to a closed document with a narrow use case, volunteers quickly migrated the data to an open table in Google Sheets and significantly increased the number of participants with their network. As the data was published with a Creative Commons license (CC0), we are happy that several projects already included the data for better distribution:

  • Refugee Phrasebook interactive (Android) provides data from the tables in a more user-friendly interface
  • RefuChat (Android, iPhone) supports refugees, helpers and paramedics with custom sets of phrases
  • The App InfoAid (Android) not only includes the language data, but also helps distribute important information and updates
  • The web app refugee-phrasebook.github.io presents the data in an accessible format with selectable sets of languages, while other projects are being developed on GitHub.
  • The webapp refugeedict combines select phrases with icons to provide an easier interface


The project received a lot of attention. Most importantly, the phrasebooks were accepted as a signal of welcome, a small step towards an open culture. An updated collection of feedback can be found here.

Next steps: Improved data, updated versions, better distribution

The printing and distribution project is now in its fifth month, and the demand for phrasebooks is still very high. Translations in several languages still have to be completed and checked, a common issue in our feedback is the lack of an Arabic pronunciation guide for non-Arabic languages, which could make it easier for non-native speakers to pronounce words in the languages of their destination countries. Most of all, we need dedicated workshops with refugee committees to identify the most useful phrases to recommend for printing. Since the language data has been corrected and extended since the first print runs, all existing apps as well as Wikibooks and custom design versions have to be updated. There is a lot to do, and thankfully the community support is still going strong.

How to get involved:

If you want to participiate in distributing language resources for refugees, here is what you can do:

  • Translate: Please check the documents (orientation / juridical / medical) for corrections or missing translations and read the steps for translators on how to contribute.
  • Edit: The current print versions on wikibooks have to be updated with the new data. Please check the instructions on wikibooks on how to create a custom print version.
  • Coordinate: Contact your local refugee initiative if they need booklets, check the wiki for a printable version and arrange local funding. Contact us if you need additional help to cover printing costs or a custom version.
  • Support printing and distribution with a donation and by helping volunteers directly.

Thank you all for your support!  We very much appreciate your help; we can’t do it without you.

-rpb team