This part of Module 1 deals with linguistic competences and migrant integration. The activities suggested are suitable for diverse groups of learners and focus on methods and tricks of making learning enjoyable and effective.
Language learning is perceived as a top challenge of migrant integration. Integrating adult migrants from a language perspective is a key starting and turning point for their life in a host society. Lack of linguistic competence is a barrier to social connections and rapport.
Opportunities to learn a new language need to be tailored to meet different needs of diverse groups of learners, with different motivations, starting points and levels of confidence. To fulfil the full potential of each migrant, easier access to language courses must be assured as the knowledge of the local language can open doors which are not so easy to open in the first place.
The teacher succeeds in showing learners how to continue learning on their own in between classes.
The issue that was mentioned by the migrants in the preliminary research for the Citizen of the World project is the accessibility of courses and learning opportunities for adults. Migrants often felt there is lack of affordable courses on offer. Secondly, the courses on offer often didn’t suit their busy life, work schedules.
Good Practice – Czech language courses for adults with babies in Prague
From 2019, the Democratic Education Centre tested and launched a new concept of language learning tailored to a specific migrant social group. The activity was morning Czech courses that are inclusive for people on parental/maternity leave. After a demand for such an activity emerged, it appeared a group that has difficulty accessing and attending public group courses are parents who take care of small children. The courses have worked well, took place in a classroom connected with a playroom corner, so while the students were participating in the lesson, they could still be in contact with their children, who also played and interacted with other children.
This format is more demanding on the teacher though, as the children’s presence could seem like a distracting element for the course of the lesson. The dynamic of the lessons was different, and it was necessary that the teacher accommodate the lesson plan and activities. As one of the Czech language teachers, Jana Klepková, concluded:
“It was amazing, because I’m not only a teacher, but also a mother and a grandmother, so I got used to it and it also made me very happy personally. They also get to know each other, and the children reacted very nicely, no one cried and all the children played nicely and listened to us. So at one point while I had a baby boy on my hands, at the foot of another, I was explaining grammar. I think it’s a great thing, and I’ve even noticed that even the kids there sometimes repeat something they’ve heard from us.” We were also reacting to them, so they were involved, which was great.”
Ultimately, the presence of children proved not to be a distracting element but a uniting and supporting aspect shaping the character of learning.
The courses were concluded as successful both by the participants and teachers involved. Parents appreciated the safe space of the lessons, where they could stay in a direct contact with their small children, who could also experience a new setting and socialize with other children. Foreign parents can be especially exposed to alienation and loneliness in a new country, and this was an opportunity for many of them to not only learn a language, but also maintain their well-being, meet and bond with other parents. The courses were offered equally, so participants with migrant backgrounds from different countries and various social environments (disadvantaged migrants and refugees as well as expat migrants took part) were involved. They shared their interest in learning the local language and making a new life in a new country a smooth experience for their children.
Tips for the facilitator
Many contemporary language courses also include socio-cultural contextual aspects of life in the particular country and life with its inhabitants, which motivates students and helps them to not only get to know the language but also the host culture and society.
Activity 1: How to make language learning easy-peasy?
Group and/or individual activity
The activity focuses on options of making use of free digital tools and helping learners become familiar with them and ways to use them productively.
Laptop/computer, mobile phone, pen and paper
The activity can be implemented as a workshop for a group of learners, or an individual consultation and support.
- In the beginning of the session, the facilitator opens a discussion to inquire and evaluate whether participants use any applications when learning a language, or vocabulary specifically.
- Then, chosen free platforms and modes of their use can be presented. The participants should be actively involved, getting to try and use the platforms on a laptop or a mobile phone to figure out whether they find any of them appealing and useful. Suggested plattforms to be looked into:
- memrise.com – free platform aimed at practicing and remembering vocabulary in an engaging way. Content is made by users who can also make their own private practice exercises. It is a very user-friendly environment and can be introduced even to learners with lower computer skills. Starting learning is simple and intuitive. The main version of Memrise is aimed at English speaking learners, but courses of most European languages for Arabic speakers are on offer too.
- duolingo.com – another popular free e-learning tool, complementary to learners of various levels.
- local language learning sites tips – e.g. Czech – kurzy češtiny pro cizince
- The overall goal and impact of this activity is: to introduce learners to methods of blended learning, meaning a variety of available free language learning platforms, tools and other online content. In addition to developing language learning skills, it also contributes to the development and active use of digital skills in migrant’s everyday practise. Trying learning platforms and tools can make a difference for learners, helping them to practise vocabulary and boost self-study.
Activity 2: Strategies on self-study workshop
Group and/or individual activity
The aim is to boost confidence of students and encourage self-study language learning by sharing useful techniques and methods.
Seminar on self-study of a particular language is a theme idea related to Activity 1.1, it also focuses on enhancing self-study, namely encouraging learners by providing them tools to study efficiently. Learning a language, especially attending a course can sometimes seem to be a tremendous work detached from one’s actual life reality. We propose to include and address these issues related to student’s motivation, efficiency and practise outside the classroom.
- Making a language learning plan – navigating students to create a weekly study plan, including timeline and materials. Making students consider if the plan is challenging, but also achievable and engaging for them. Here we suggest working with initial motivation coaching – sharing ideas on how to persist and stick to a language learning routine, stay focused, and overcome initial difficulties.
- Talking as much as you can – sharing ideas on how to seek and create conversation opportunities, overcome first speech barriers and eventually boost one’s speaking skills.
- Make learning enjoyable – suggest and discuss options of being exposed to the language, such as watching television, listening to radio and podcasts, following social media, reading basic texts and magazines, recipes, exploring one’s areas of interest in the local language, playing games.
- Visual learning – discussion of options on how to surround ourselves with the language. Ideas can include: sticky notes, flashcards, creating a vocabulary notebook, writing a diary.
- The practitioner can also discuss specifics and general tips for learning the language, which can provide wider context and understanding to learning.
- Expected outcomes: student’s motivation is nurtured by creating a plan of action and establishing a routine. An improved mental-well-being and self-confidence while productively supporting the regular lesson learning.