Migrant Language Education

Migration in Society

The majority of European countries have significant numbers of immigrants and today Europe is home to millions of first, second and third generation immigrants and to ethnic minority communities. There are important economic and cultural benefits from migration for society and for individuals; freedom of movement is one of the keystones of the European Union. At the same time, the integration of large numbers of migrants raises challenges. A major one is the integration of migrants into education systems and labour markets.

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The importance of migrant language education

Migrants need to be able to learn the language of the host country, and at the same time to preserve or (if they are children) to learn the language of the country of emigration. According to the Council of Europe’s Language Policy Division, “access to literacy in two languages benefits cognitive development. Thus, the language skills of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds should be fostered by whatever means available, partly as a matter of human rights and partly in order to increase society’s linguistic and cultural capital” (Council of Europe/Language Policy Division 2010).Activities for raising awareness of the diversity of languages and cultures through inclusive, plurilingual and intercultural approaches are features of good quality education and have a positive impact on society as a whole.

In spite of efforts to integrate migrants in European labour markets, education systems and other societal structures had some success in recent years, migrant and ethnic minority workers are still over-represented in both low quality employment and long-term unemployment and under-represented in further education and vocational training.

The causes of exclusion are complex and often go beyond the scope of educational intervention. Nevertheless, communicative competence in the majority language spoken in the country of residence is a prerequisite for inclusion and participation both in the labour market and society at large. To tackle this issue, policies to promote the education and training of young and adult migrants are needed.

Research which illustrates the value and benefits of migrant language education

The Council of Europe has a website dedicated to the linguistic integration of adult migrants (LIAM). Surveys which demonstrated the impact of migrant language acquisition through integration in their host country were carried out in 2008, 2010 and 2013. For more information visit the dedicated Council of Europe website.

Research into migrant education has demonstrated that the educational success of migrants is enhanced when their first language is acknowledged and used. Equally, language awareness and bilingual approaches are known to contribute to cognitive development of all children (see Cummins).

Role of the Council of Europe and the European Centre for Modern Languages in Migrant Language Education

Teachers and educational authorities in many ECML member states are developing strategies to cater for the language needs of children and adult migrants.

The ECML has a number of projects which aim to support migrant language education. These projects address the acquisition of the host country’s language(s) or learning and improving languages spoken in the family home, while acknowledging the learner’s need to develop both. For more information on ECML projects relating to migrant language education, see the project websites.

Ready to use materials available from the Council of Europe / ECML relating migrant language education

There are a number of ready to use materials relating to migrant language education. For more information on these resources, please see the resources section.

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ECML Publications

 
 

Projects 2012-15 targeting young migrants


DIVERSITY IN MAJORITY LANGUAGE LEARNING (MALEDIVE)
Project duration: 2012-2015
Project website in English / German
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The project focuses on teacher education for the majority language (e.g. French in France, Polish in Poland). It aims to provide access to plurilingual approaches so that teachers can address and build on linguistic and cultural diversity in classrooms. The project will also promote collaboration between teachers of all languages.
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LANGUAGE DESCRIPTORS FOR MIGRANT AND MINORITY LEARNERS' SUCCESS IN COMPULSORY EDUCATION (LANGUAGE DESCRIPTORS)
Project duration: 2012-2013
Project website in English / French
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The project focuses on the language competence required in the language of schooling in order to achieve educational success. Eliciting language requirements in curriculum subjects and linking these to CEFR levels will raise educators’ awareness of the language migrant and minority language learners’ need to perform successfully in compulsory education.
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COLLABORATIVE COMMUNITY APPROACH TO MIGRANT EDUCATION
Project duration: 2013-2014
Project website in English / French
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This project explores new ways to enhance young migrants' education by developing links between schools, the home and local partners in education. This educational joint venture aims to develop the learners’ skills in the language of schooling and their plurilingual competences. New ways of teaching are being explored by producing multi-modal texts. Online resources as well as accompanying documents are being developed in cooperation with libraries and other local partners.
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LINCQ - LANGUAGES IN CORPORATE QUALITY
Project duration: 2012-2013
Project website in English/ French

Projects 2012-15 targeting young migrants


DEVELOPING MIGRANTS’ LANGUAGE COMPETENCES AT WORK (LANGUAGE FOR WORK)
Project duration: 2012-2015
Project website in English / French 
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The project seeks to establish a European learning network to support researchers, learning providers, employers, trade unions and policy-makers in an emerging field: learning (including formal, non-formal and informal learning) of the majority language by migrants and ethnic minorities for work. A website to share and develop practice across different European countries will be set up.
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Videos

CONBAT Mercè Bernaus on
"Plurilingualism and pluriculturalism in content teaching"
see website 
CONBAT  Klaus-Börge Boeckmann on
"Majority language instruction as basis for plurilingual education"
see website 
   

 

 

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Resources

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Best Practice in Migrant Language Education

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