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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Basic Skills for Integration: online discussion

by Zsolt Vincze

Welcome to the online discussion on Basic Skills for Integration organised by the EBSN EPALE team! This event is also a pre-discussion for the EBSN Annual Conference (link is external) to be held in Luxembourg on the 1st and 2nd June. We will build the discussion on three blogs and will discuss for one and a half days along the topics below:

The discussion will start at 14.00 CET on Thursday, 18th May and will be closed at 17.00 CET on Friday, 19th May. We will post a summary of the discussion early in the following week. David Mallows (EPALE Thematic Coordinator, UK) and Graciela Sbertoli (Skills Norway) will be the key experts in moderating the discussion.

Whether you are a decision maker, a researcher or a teacher don’t miss your chance to share your experience in working with adult migrants!

**Make sure you click on "reply" under the specific discussion thread that you want to comment on. Please note that the discussion may be over several pages, so please refresh the page from time to time and scroll to the bottom.**

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Hayat Faqeer's picture

History museums and Art galleries may help learn essential information for more expansion in a non-formal setting.

If migrants immigrated from a ware zone, what significant factors should we have in mind in the new host country teaching process? 

Cross-cultural content might be important for both studnets and tutors to reinforce socio-political, cultural and religious understanding.




David Mallows's picture

Thank you all for such a stimulating and varied set of contributions. Lots of excellent food for thought. I will produce a summary early next week that will be posted here and shared with delgates at the EBSN conference in Luxembourg.

In the meantime we will leave the comments open here , so please carry on sharing and reflecting on the role of basic skills in integration.




Christa NIEUWBOER's picture

This poster presentation during the ECDP conference 2017 may be of interest to you. 



Educational courses for migrants are aimed to support their efforts to participate in a host society. In this presentation the differences of design will be identified between common classroom curricula, mostly focussed on language acquisition, and participatory semi-structured curricula, concentrating on the lifespan. Research suggests that migrants without formal learning experience benefit more from the participatory lifespan approach, including attention for the family context.


In seven pilot projects, carried out in three European countries (N = 100),  a redesign of civic education programme was tested and evaluated, taking the most relevant issues for the learners as a starting point for course development. Classic civic education mostly instructs dominant and stereotype cultural habits and beliefs by taking goals or tests as the starting point of design, serving mixed groups regarding age, gender and cultural background. Participatory methods foster the development of new ways of awareness and coping with the differences between cultures by taking a different approach, providing a safe and conducive learning environment, taking the most relevant issues for the learners and their life experiences as a starting point and moving towards the goals one step at the time.


The evaluations of the participatory pilot projects show that the learners improved in self-efficacy, participated in the host society more, improved their second language proficiency and showed more insight and skill in their parenting roles.


Several key principles for the design of participatory adult learning have been identified during the pilot projects, especially suited for migrants without formal education experience, informing future development for civic education and social integration of migrant families in western societies.



Graciela Sbertoli's picture

Thank you so much for your input, Christa. I find this extremely interesting and will forward your information to Norwegian colleagues who I know are very interested! You may be hearing from us soon! :-)

Ingrid Wilhelmsen's picture

In the region of Sandefjord, a coastal town in the south of Norway, we are trying out a model in cooperation with many relevant stakeholders, including the employment and integration stakeholders and the social partners, to make sure migrants can be integrated in working life as soon as possible, at the same time as they are following training both in the Norwegian language and in the formal education they need to achieve qualifications.

The model will be presented in more detail at the EBSN conference in Luxembourg, and we will also be presenting some documentation on Epale very soon.

Graciela Sbertoli's picture

This is indeed a very interesting model and we will be looking forward to hearing much more about it in Sandefjord! 

For those of you who will be unable to join us there: continue to follow this discussion in the weeks to come. We will post here links to documentation from the conference. As Ingrid says, the Sandefjord model will also be presented here on Epale very shortly.

Carlos Ribeiro's picture

Working with basic skills aiming at the integration of migrants implies creating a coherent and specific ecosystem because the use of the resources of the formal system of support to the development of competencies fails in what is essential: the adaptation to the subject / individual and the relation with practical aspects of the Process of integration.
The process should incorporate:
- the definition of the subject / individual priorities (monitoring system oriented to the People's Power to Act);
- an operational relationship with the world of organizations, with possibilities of testing to interact;
- an open and flexible approach to learning, in a model similar to the Second Chance Schools, with a pedagogical approach based on the acquired knowledge and the logic of the project and the work to be done.

David Mallows's picture

I agree that our formal systems often fail to meet the needs of migrants, but I do think that any ecosystem to support adult migrants in learning the host language and integrating into their new society would be strionger if it also incorporates the formal system. One of the problems we have in England (and other countries) is that formal / non-formal / informal parts of the system do not work in a coherent way together.

I like your focus on 'adaptation to the subject' (learner-centred) and the fact that you recognise how importnaqt 'practical aspects of the Process of integration' are to migrants.

Could you say a bit more about each of your bullet points? Or point us to any resources that discuss these?

  • What is the People's Power to Act?
  • Does an 'operational relationship with the world of organizations' refer to empowering learners to engage with government services, employers, retailers etc?
  • I'm quite sceptical about Second Chance Schools - what is it about the pedagogy used there that you feel is appropriate? I think your first point (acquired knowledge) is 'building on what adults know', but I am not sure what 'the logic of the project and the work to be done.'




Graciela Sbertoli's picture

Thank you for your input, Carlos! I like the concept of ecosystem in this context! In Norway we talk about an integrated approach, and I think we mean the same thing. One of the interesting recent developments at policy level in this country has been the opening up of the national program for basic skills at the work place (Skills Plus), so that now it also involves volunteering associations. Many of these have now got project grants and are using them to train migrants in all basic skills, including of course also the second language. I don't think, however, that we should completely turn away from the formal system. What we need is to make it so flexible that it can take in the need for contextualisation and provide individual paths, so that each adult can be empowered to fully participate in society and working life while at the same time acquiring formal qualifications which will make integration all the more efficient.

Graciela Sbertoli's picture

David, you make an interesting point about the insufficiency of formal learning as training arena for language acquisition.

Here in Norway we have started to develop (only a start!) an interesting model, where students are trained to use their mobile devices as a tool for self-learning. The current policy focus in Norway is to place immigrants in a work situation (as a sort of trainees) as soon as possible. They spend time in the classroom but also at a work place. And they are taught to videotape situations they found linguistically challenging, so that they can study the different alternative solutions and train liguistic patterns of response. I like the approach because it is "learning to learn".