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.
The LIAM project’s dedicated website, which is in effect an OER in its own right, offers
- 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
- a list of Key terms linked to a large number of background papers
- 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
- CoE’s publication, Tailoring language provision and requirements to the needs and capacities of adult migrants, by Hans-Jürgen Krumm & Verena Plutzar. University of Vienna.
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|
Recommendations for further relevant resources are welcome in the comment section below!