Migrant people often travel to Europe through many countries before reaching their destination. Each country they enter has different cultures and customs, and language plays a major role in facilitating or hindering their journey.
Understanding and being able to communicate in a language allows us to access information and make informed decisions. For thousands of people living in transit and in refugee camps, language barriers are a difficult reality of everyday life. They often rely on information from refugees and friends who have gone through the same experience, especially because local authorities, humanitarian aid workers, and volunteers do not usually speak their languages. Refugees and displaced persons are exposed to more threats to their lives when they do not speak the local language. In some refugee camps, volunteers offer language lessons to bridge the gap left by government institutions that have failed to address the needs and rights of refugees. Generally, they can only get professional linguistic help from interpreters and translators via non-profit organisations and NGOs.
Open Cultural Center supports migrants and refugees in Spain and Greece by offering free language classes, with the aim to support refugees’ integration and improve their chances of accessing training and employment opportunities.
n 2021 the framework for Lithuanian language teaching for third-country nationals as well as language-relevant recommendations were introduced. They further emphasise the importance of language learning for the integration of migrants and refugees into society, education and the labour market system.
Ongoing project ’Language learning as part of successful social integration (2020-22)
The project, implemented since August 2020, targets migrants and refugees, as well as Lithuanian language teachers/specialists. By end-2020, 160 migrants and refugees had participated in Lithuanian language courses. Methodological training introducing methods for designing and implementing training courses were organised with the participation of 60 language teachers. The main aim of this project is to provide nationals of third countries the possibility to learn Lithuanian, so that they can be integrated in the education and labour market system more easily. The concept for this project was prepared based on the experience of four other countries (AT, DE, NL and SE).
Opora developed and operates an online platform launched in March 2022 using which Ukrainians looking for sponsors can find UK sponsors for the Government Homes for Ukraine scheme, creating a more structured way for the two communities to connect as an alternative to social media whilst allowing Ukrainians retain agency and choice in the process.
The Opora platform is evolving into a support hub for Ukrainians in the UK, offering direct assistance to Ukrainian arrivals from our growing network of partners, from travel, baby supplies and tailored employment opportunities and business grants for long-term sustainable support. Leveraging the platform allows our partners to make tailored offers of support to Ukrainians communities and beneficiaries.
On 14 January 2022 the Education Department hosted a Webinar to present a new reference guide for Literacy and Second Language Learning for Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants (LASLLIAM).
About 400 participants, mainly language educators from different countries, including from outside Europe, attended the event, participating actively in an exchange with the authors.
The reference guide was developed by a group of experts and the Council of Europe Education Department to support high-quality learning environments for non- and low-literate migrants. Research has shown that when it comes to language or knowledge of society courses, the needs of this group of migrants are rarely taken into consideration, and they are rarely offered a sufficient number of hours of teaching to reach the language level required.
The authors explained how research was used to develop the guide aimed at supporting language educators, curriculum designers and language policymakers in their endeavour to design, implement, evaluate and improve curricula tailored towards the specific needs of the target learners. They also presented new visions of teaching literacy and second language and of assessing low-literate learners across Europe.
The pilot phase of the project is about to start, aimed at developing tools and scenarios referring to LASLLIAM. The reference guide will be launched at a Conference on the 30th of June 2022.
Few will dispute the need for refugees to learn the language of the host country as quickly as possible. But we all know that the government does not always provide the means to have the refugees trained by professionals. What would your reaction be, as a professional language trainer, if there are not enough resources for paid language training?
In the project ‘VOLUNTEERS IN LANGUAGE LEARNING FOR REFUGEES’, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union they come up with an interesting solution to make language training cheaper without undermining the position of the professionals: teachers involve volunteers in their language training for refugees.
They even made a toolkit for language teachers who want to work well with volunteers, in order to support refugees to learn the language of their new country.