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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Chapter 3 on The Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants (LIAM) Project by The Council of Europe

by Graciela Sbertoli
Language: EN

Background to LIAM

The Council of Europe (CoE) has been concerned with migrant language learning since 1968, when the Committee of Ministers issued a Resolution (Res(68)18) on the teaching of languages to migrant workers.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a Council of Europe instrument used in most education systems. Three surveys of Member States carried out by the Council of Europe showed that the CEFR has been used with increasing frequency to define the levels of proficiency that adult migrants are required to achieve in order to secure entry, residence and citizenship. The CEFR was not intended for this purpose, however, and the Council of Europe considers that its inappropriate use can have serious consequences that may include the infringement of migrants’ human rights.

That is one of the main reasons why the CoE started in 2006 the the Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants (LIAM) project. The project was designed to facilitate the integration of migrants into civil society and to promote social cohesion, and it draws on the CoE’s experience in the field to provide tools that can support policy-makers, providers of language courses, and those in charge of testing migrants’ language competences.


About LIAM

The LIAM project’s dedicated website, which is in effect an OER in its own right, offers

  1. a set of Principles addressing the various issues and considerations to be taken into account when designing policies to facilitate the linguistic integration of adult migrants
  2. a list of Key terms linked to a large number of background papers
  3. Instruments and Resources, for example a self-evaluation questionnaire for language course providers and a European Language Portfolio specifically designed for adult migrants.


For further reading


It is important to note in this context that the notion of integration is a two-way process, which the Council of Europe has promoted since it started to work with these issues. To get a much deeper insight into the consequences this approach should have for policy-making, we recommend this excellent article, which questions several established theories and practices.

“The role of language testing for integration purposes has to be challenged and carefully evaluated to prevent negative effects: for the learners (anxiety leading to linguistic reduction rather than development), for the language courses (teaching to the test), for the teachers (and their role conflicts), for the curricula and for the policy. It would be useful to put much more energy in developing alternatives to tests such as specific portfolios which give migrants the possibility to present their strengths instead of pointing at their weaknesses. Encouragement and motivation are key issues for successful integration – language courses might be helpful in establishing this if they do not put migrants under pressure and combine tests with negative sanctions” (p. 13).


Questions for reflection
  • Is the European Framework for Languages used in your country to measure the linguistic ability of migrants? Are national stakeholders in your country aware of the Council of Europe’s position in this issue? Are they familiar with the LIAM project?
  • Reflecting on the resources shared in this OER, what do you think are the most important changes that should be applied to your current national policy?
  • To what extent would you say that integration is considered in your country “a two-way process”? What is expected from the receiving population? What is the role of civic society in this process?


Recommendations for further relevant resources are welcome in the comment section below!




The Capacity Building Series of EBSN provides free open educational resources (OERs) and massive online courses (MOOCs) through EPALE, to help the implementation of the European Commission recommendations on Upskilling pathways in EU Member States. EPALE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme, as part the European Commission’s ongoing commitment to improving the quality of adult learning provision in Europe. The project is implemented with the support of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).



Continue here:

Chapter 1 on Key Documents for Policy-makers by the EU
Chapter 2 on National Programs for Integrating Migrant Adults
Back to the main page


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