Today’s Europe is home to millions of people from all over the world and has become a highly complex ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural realty (1). European economies are increasingly dependent on migrants, including countries not previously associated with migration. Although adult migrants contribute with their activities and taxes to the social and economic development of the host countries, supporting among others the educational system, they profit the least from it. Yet their linguistic integration is vital for inclusion, social cohesion and economic welfare of the whole society (Stirling 2015). Work-related L2 development is widely recognised as a crucial enabler. Successful integration and participation are vital not only for individuals but also for their families: Most adult migrants are parents and/or siblings thus role models for children and can better support their integration’s process. Supporting work-related L2 development of adult migrants is an investment for the benefit of whole society.
These issues form the context and focus of the ECML-sponsored project, Language for Work – Tools for professional development. On 23 and 24 October 2018, the project’s final workshop took place at the ECML headquarters in Graz in Austria.
The event attracted 42 language professionals from a total of 29 European countries, from Armenia to Iceland, Cyprus to the Russian Federation, and Canada. This large number of engaged participants is an indication of the urgency of work to support the linguistic integration of adult migrants and the importance of the project’s focus: professional development of those who support work-related L2 learning.
The aim of the workshop was to communicate the results of the project to ECML member states. The structure of the workshop was interactive. After short presentations of the various products by the project team, participants were invited to discuss the products in small groups, and also to share their experience and view of the issues that the products related to.
In small groups participants examined
Two dedicated sessions were set aside for participants to share their own practice. In these sessions, participants gave eleven short presentations. Prior to the meeting, participants had shared further examples of their own practice in writing (via the padlet board) – further evidence of the wide range of expertise in Europe which the workshop managed to attract.
The event raised interest for the Language for Work Network: a number of participants joined it as members. It also led to the creation of one additional product – a series of short video testimonials. In these testimonial videos, 13 participants, from trade union representative to publisher, from researcher to local authority officer, briefly explained why the LfW Network and the project mattered to them, giving insight into the European scale of the issue, its many facets and the variety of actors involved. These videos will be available shortly on the LfW Network website. Finally, several participants agreed to translate the Quick Guide as well as the ‘Communication in public services – Practical strategies and tips’ and ‘Communication in job centres – Practical strategies and tips’ (berami, Frankfurt) resources into additional languages.
On the day following the two-day workshop, an informal meeting of the Language for Work Network was held at the ECML discussing concrete activities to strengthen the network and its support for professionals. With the end of 2018 the project Language for Work – Tools for professional development comes to an end, but the ECML will continue to host the Language for Work Network website (https://languageforwork.ecml.at/), available in English and French.
It is now up to us all, as members of the Language for Work Network, to further develop the network to help professionals in the field of work-related L2 development in their work for social inclusion in Europe.
(1) According to Eurostat data extracted in March 2018, on 1 January 2017 the number of people residing in a EU Member State with citizenship of a non-member country was 21.6 million, representing 4.2 % of the EU-28 population. In addition, there were 16.9 million persons living in one of the EU Member States on 1 January 2017 with the citizenship of another EU Member State. (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Migration_and_migrant_population_statistics)
(2)Stirling A (2015): Employment outcomes for migrants in European labour markets, IPPR http://www.ippr.org/publications/migrant-employment-outcomes-in-european-labour-markets