The following resources aimed at supporting the linguistic and educational integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds can also be used to enhance the educational experience of all learners.

The initiatives and strategies pursued within the framework of the Language Policy Programme take their inspiration from the values and principles promoted by the Council of Europe: Europe's linguistic and cultural diversity seen as a heritage to be safeguarded; the right of any speaker to learn languages as they wish or need; plurilingualism and language learning as tools for mutual understanding, social cohesion and democratic citizenship, equal access to quality education.

Much international research emphasise the fact that access to education and school success depend to a large extent on language competences.

The resources include:

Platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education: tools and texts

The Platform is an open and dynamic resource that provides definitions, points of reference, descriptions and descriptors, studies, and examples of good practice. Member states are invited to use the Platform according to their needs, resources and educational culture to support the development of policies that promote equal access to quality education.

Plurilingual and intercultural education involve all the languages present at school: the language(s) of schooling, regional, minority and migrant languages, and the foreign languages of the curriculum.

A strategic tool

 Guide for the development and implementation of curricula for plurilingual and intercultural education (2016)

Jean-Claude Beacco, Michael Byram, Marisa Cavalli, Daniel Coste, Mirjam Egli Cuenat, Francis Goullier, Johanna Panthier

This guide, which adopts a global approach to language education, while primarily intended for those responsible for curriculum planning, is ultimately aimed at everyone involved in teaching. All levels are concerned: national, regional or local, and the school itself. Although it does not provide descriptions of activities that could be used directly in the classroom, the guide offers strategic support for the development of plurilingual and intercultural education in education systems as an indispensable factor in the social cohesion of contemporary European societies. It is thus relevant to the linguistic and educational integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds.
 Overview of chapters

The language(s) of schooling: pivot of plurilingual and intercultural education

The language(s) of schooling is the medium through which pupils learn most school subjects. The texts listed below are part of the ‘Languages of schooling’ section of the Platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education. They are relevant to all learners, including those who find it difficult to acquire ‘academic’ competences in the language of schooling. Pupils and students from migrant backgrounds are far from being the only learners in this situation.

 Framework of Reference for Early Second Language Acquisition (2009)

Machteld Verhelst (ed.), Kris Van den Branden, Dirkje Van den Nulft, Marianne Verhallen under the auspices of The Nederlandse Taalunie

This tool defines what all children need to be able to do in the language of schooling before starting primary education.

 Languages of schooling: focusing on vulnerable learners (2010)

Eike Thürmann, Helmut Vollmer, Irene Pieper

This tool provides strategies to support language development of vulnerable learners.

 Outline for specification of teachers’ competences with a view to plurilingual and intercultural education (2010)

Eike Thürmann, Helmut Vollmer

This study (which became Appendix III of the Guide for the Development and Implementation of Curricula for Plurilingual and Intercultural Education) addresses teachers who wish to reflect on the linguistic dimension of their teaching and the linguistic demands of the subject(s) they teach.

Teaching in multilingual schools and teacher training

The various tools designed to support the integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds can also be used in teacher training courses.

 Language diagnostics in multilingual settings with respect to continuous procedures as accompaniment of individualized learning and teaching (2010)

Drorit Lengyel

This study summarises the objectives and functions of language diagnostics (including formative assessment) as an integral part of continuous language education that emphasises individualised teaching and learning. The study illustrates its theoretical perspective by describing a number of practical approaches.

 Professional development for staff working in multilingual schools (2010)

Jim Anderson, Christine Hélot, Joanna McPake, Vicky Obied

Numerous resources for the professional development of staff working in multilingual schools are available internationally; a large selection is presented in this document according to domains and professional categories.

 Cooperation, management and networking: effective ways to promote the linguistic and educational integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds. (2010)

Christiane Bainski, Tanja Kaseric, Ute Michel, Joanna McPake, Amy Thompson

This study focuses on ways in which the linguistic integration of bi-and plurilingual children and young people can be designed successfully through collaboration among pupils, parents, teachers and other educational experts as well as between schools and other institutions.

 Migrant pupils and formal mastery of the language of schooling: variations and representations (2010)

Marie-Madeleine Bertucci

The schooling of migrant children is a sensitive question from the viewpoint of plurilingual and intercultural education because it involves performing interdisciplinary analysis and showing the close interrelation between linguistic and social phenomena. This study looks at the social norms and out-of-school linguistic contexts experienced by many migrant pupils before focusing on variability and the question of systemic developments.

 Approach to specific needs of disadvantaged learners (2009)

Jean-Claude Beacco

This text tries to characterise the nature of what might be vulnerability in certain children’s linguistic competences (or in their communication through language). Access to schooling is not equitable if the learners’ first language is not taught in schools as a subject and as a language of instruction for teaching other subjects. This is the case with recently arrived migrant children or children from indigenous minorities in polities where their regional language is not recognised. Lack of recognition is possible for all languages lacking official or dominant status, whether regional /minority or foreign. This exclusion of the other person’s languages may be realised as linguistic intolerance founded on negative social representations, rejection, prohibition (in the school setting, in social life) or negation of existence.

The perspective of the learner

The first section of the Platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education addresses the learner’s perspective : the texts it includes are directly or indirectly relevant to children from migrant backgrounds:

 Capitalising on, activating and developing plurilingual and pluricultural repertoires for better school integration (2009)

Véronique Castellotti, Danièle Moore

The integration of children and adolescents in the educational and linguistic traditions resulting from their histories and societal development (and not ‘assimilation’ into a pre-existing fixed, stable and standardised model) requires that all those involved in education clarify their roles and responsibilities. This study proposes ways of comparing approaches in order to benefit from one another’s experience.

 Putting the Evidence Back into Evidence-based Policies for Underachieving Students (2011)

Jim Cummins

Data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) suggest that countries vary significantly in the extent to which socioeconomic disparities influence educational achievement and also in the extent to which first and second generation immigrants succeed in school.

Policy-makers have no hesitation in endorsing the principle of evidence-based educational policies. This text presents some tools to implement educational policies that are truly evidence-based.

Language as subject

Language as subject is the designation used to refer to the teaching of a national/official language as a subject in itself (literacy, reading, writing, literature, reflection on the language, etc.).

 Reading (2009)

Laila Aase, Mike Fleming, Sigmund Ongstad, Irene Pieper, Florentina Samihaian

This text provides an overview of reading as a key dimension of language as subject. It considers issues related to what ‘reading’ means, particularly in the school context and addresses some of the key tensions that have to be faced when constructing and teaching the curriculum. The text ends with a series of ‘questions for consideration’ in order to help readers to reflect critically on their own policy and practice.

 Writing (2009)

Laila Aase, Mike Fleming, Sigmund Ongstad, Irene Pieper, Florentina Samihaian

This study provides an overview of writing as a key dimension of language as subject. It considers various aspects of the writing process and addresses some key questions facing policy developers and teachers. It stresses the need for a broad approach to writing in language as subject. The text ends with a series of 'questions for consideration' to help readers reflect critically on their own policy and practice.

The intercultural dimension

Every language conveys and is a vehicle for culture. Taking into account the cultural dimension of the languages present and taught in schools is a fundamental – and particularly delicate – aspect of plurilingual and intercultural education. And today’s children are exposed to cultural diversity at an early stage, both in a social context and when starting school.

 Specifying languages’ contribution to intercultural education. Lessons learned from the CEFR. (2013)

Jean-Claude Beacco.

The humanist perspective of language teaching, the continuation of a long-standing cultural tradition in Europe, has now led to a didactic approach we have come to call intercultural education, designed to allow learners to react thoughtfully when they come into contact with the various forms that otherness can take. The aim of this text is twofold: to put the concept of intercultural education in practical terms and to posit the necessary conditions for specifying those terms, in other words, the criteria that any corresponding benchmark instruments should meet. The CEFR is used as a reference instrument. That does not mean “singling out” parts of the CEFR that may be useful elsewhere, but rather drawing support from its approach and structure.

 Multicultural Societies, Pluricultural People and the Project of Intercultural Education (2009)

Michael Byram

Contemporary societies are multicultural and Europe as a whole is multicultural. It was ever thus but the complexity is increasing as a consequence of mobility and migration. It is important to clarify the impact of this societal phenomenon on individuals who are potentially or actually pluricultural as a consequence of experiencing multicultural social life. The threats to social cohesion which increased multiculturalism brings, have to be counter-acted by education for intercultural dialogue which depends on intercultural competence. Compulsory education is thus required to respond to this situation by developing learners' intercultural competence. It can do so through language education which introduces learners to other cultures external or internal to their own society. Educational systems can also give learners access to other cultures and their discourses within the curriculum, i.e. the cultures of the different subjects and the identification with the specific modes of being and perceiving which inhere in each subject and group of subjects.

 Plurilingual and pluricultural competence (rev. 2009)

Daniel Coste, Daniele Moore, Geneviève Zarate

In Europe today, plurilingualism defines the language policy of the Council of Europe and is a fundamental principle of language education policies in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The concept of plurilingual and pluricultural education exemplifies for that reason powerful symbolic, social and political stakes, while providing, at the same time, a more rational and modernist notion of change and empowerment.

 Languages and identities (2006)

Michael Byram

People acquire new identities and new languages or language varieties throughout life; it is a dynamic process. If they become conscious of this, they can also ‘play’ with their languages and identities, deliberately shifting from one language/variety to another within the same conversation, thereby signalling a change from one identity to another. Young people have been shown to be adept at this as they move from one social situation to another. Becoming consciously plurilingual, with the help of teachers of the languages of education, is an enrichment.

 Intercultural Competence (2003)

Gerhard Neuner, Lynne Parmenter, Hugh Starkey, Geneviève Zarate (Michael Byram, Ed.)

It is in the acquisition of intercultural understanding and the ability to act in linguistically and culturally complex situations that European citizens could benefit from a common framework of theory and practice not only for linguistic but also for cultural learning. The articles in this collection are a contribution to the debate on the notion of intercultural competence as presented in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages : Learning, teaching, assessment.

 Developing the Intercultural Dimension in Language Teaching – A practical introduction for teachers (2002)

Michael Byram (ed.), Bella Gribkova, Hugh Starkey

Education for intercultural understanding remains central to the Council of Europe’s activities. This text answers some questions in both practical and principled ways, allowing teachers to think through the implications for their own classrooms of a substantial new dimension and aim in language teaching.

 Sociocultural competence in language learning and teaching (1997)

Michael Byram, Gerhard Neuner, Geneviève Zarate

This study is one of a number commissioned by the Council of Europe in connection with the development of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. The authors put into question the traditional concept of sociocultural competence and propose the development of an intercultural competence that makes it possible to bring two cultures into relation with each other.

 Young people facing difference (1995)

Michael Byram, Geneviève Zarate

Altough it was developed as a contribution to a European campaign against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, this brochure could be very useful for teachers of any subject who are working in multilingual and multicultural classrooms. In addition to principles and didactic reflections, the brochure includes practical activities that can easily be adapted to the needs of particular contexts and learners.

Other tools available on this website that could be useful for education systems welcoming children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds:

 European Language Portfolio (ELP)

The ELP is designed to support the development of learner autonomy, plurilingualism and intercultural awareness. ELP models have been developed in 33 Council of Europe member states and for learners in all educational domains. The ELP has been used to support the linguistic integration of pupils and students from migrant backgrounds and the teaching and learning of Romani. For further information see the ELP website.

 Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters : a publication and a website

The Autobiography is a resource designed to encourage people to think about and learn from intercultural encounters that have made a strong impression or had a long-lasting effect, encounters they have had either face to face or through visual media such as television, magazines, films, the Internet, etc. A version for younger learners is available besides the version for older learners and adults.

The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)

A number of other resources to support migrant learners can  be downloaded from the ECML website. The ECML is a Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe (Graz - Austria) and partner of the Language Policy Programme. Its activities include teacher traing and implementation of language policies related to plurilingual and intercultural education. Regarding the linguistic integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds, the Platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education includes resources offered by the ECML in the following sections:

Conferences / Seminars

Few specific events have been organised on the linguistic and educational integration of learners from migrant backgrounds, but the theme has been dealt with in a transversal way in numerous events on languages of schooling and plurilingual and intercultural education.

The Section « Events » offers a summary of the objectives of each event as well as reports.

Two examples

  • Intergovernmental Seminar: “Meeting the challenge of multilingual classrooms: exploiting plurilingual repertoires, managing transitions and developing proficiency in the language(s) of schooling”
    Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 7-8 March 2012
  • Intergovernmental Policy Forum: “The right of learners to quality and equity in education – the role of language and intercultural skills”
    Geneva, 2-4 November 2010