The potential of transnational language policy to promote social inclusion of immigrants: An analysis and evaluation of the European Union’s INCLUDE project

Abstract

Language issues and social inclusion consistently remain two major concerns for member countries of the European Union (EU). Despite an increasing awareness of the importance of language learning in migrants’ social inclusion, and the promotion of language policies at European and national levels, there is still a lack of common actions at the European level. Challenged by questions as to whether language learning should be prioritised as a human right or as human capital building, how host/mainstream language learning can be reinforced while respecting language diversity, and other problems, member countries still need to find solutions. Confronting these dilemmas, this study analyses the relationship and interactions between language learning and immigrants’ social inclusion in different contexts. It explores the potential of enhancing the effectiveness of language policies via a dialogue between policies and practices in different national contexts and research studies in the field of language and social inclusion. The research data are derived from two databases created by a European policy for active social inclusion project called INCLUDE. This project ran from 2013 to 2016 under the EU’s lifelong learning programme, with funding support from the European Commission. Through an analysis of these two project databases, the paper reviews recent national language policies and their effect on the social inclusion of migrants. In the second part of her article, the author interprets the process of language learning and social inclusion using poststructuralist theories of language and identity.

Résumé

Potentiel des politiques linguistiques transnationales de favoriser l’inclusion sociale des migrants: analyse et évaluation du projet INCLUDE de l’Union européenne – Les questions linguistiques et l’inclusion sociale demeurent deux grandes préoccupations constantes pour les États membres de l’Union européenne (UE). Malgré une prise de conscience accrue de l’importance de l’apprentissage des langues pour l’inclusion sociale des migrants, et malgré la promotion de politiques linguistiques européennes et nationales, les actions communes d’envergure européenne sont encore insuffisantes. Il importe de savoir si l’apprentissage linguistique doit être déclaré droit fondamental ou considéré comme renforcement du capital humain, et comment promouvoir l’apprentissage de la langue principale du pays d’accueil tout en respectant la diversité linguistique. Confrontés à ces questions, les États membres de l’UE n’y ont pas encore apporté de réponses. En abordant ces dilemmes, la présente étude analyse la relation et les interactions dans différents contextes entre apprentissage linguistique et inclusion sociale des migrants. Elle explore le potentiel d’améliorer l’efficacité des politiques linguistiques via un échange entre politiques et pratiques dans différents contextes nationaux, et travaux de recherche dans le domaine de la linguistique et de l’inclusion sociale. Les données scientifiques sont tirées de deux bases de données créées par une politique linguistique européenne en vue du projet actif d’inclusion sociale intitulé INCLUDE. Celui-ci a été déployé de 2013 à 2016 dans le cadre du programme communautaire d’éducation et de formation tout au long de la vie avec le soutien financier de la Commission européenne. À travers une analyse de ces deux bases de données du projet, l’article recense les récentes politiques linguistiques nationales et leurs effets sur l’inclusion sociale des migrants. Dans la seconde partie de son article, l’auteure interprète le processus de l’apprentissage linguistique et de l’inclusion sociale en s’appuyant sur les théories poststructuralistes relatives au langage et à l’identité.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Proclaimed in 2000, the Charter (EU 2000) became legally binding for EU member countries in December 2009, when the Treaty of Lisbon (EU 2007) entered into force.

  2. 2.

    According to Eurostat data collection methodology, citizenship is often used to study immigrants with foreign background and due to its changeability, country of birth is also necessarily applied to analyse information.

  3. 3.

    The INCLUDE network’s platform, which was at www.includenetwork.eu, is unfortunately no longer accessible, but the three yearly reports and the roadmap are available at http://www.ardaa.fr/include-project [accessed 7 July 2017].

  4. 4.

    The six founding organisations of the INCLUDE project were: (1) Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale (IRS) – Italy; (2) Iniciativas Innovadoras S.A.L.(IN) – Spain; (3) Agenzia per l´Orientamento e la Formazione, Istruzione e Lavoro (APOF-IL) – Italy; (4) Université de Bordeaux-LACES – France; (5) Vytautas Magnus University – Lithuania; and (6) Arcola Research LLP – United Kingdom.

  5. 5.

    The five countries were Italy, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Spain and Lithuania.

  6. 6.

    The Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) organises language learners’ proficiency in six levels, A1 to C2, with A1 being the most basic and C2 being the most proficient level. A2 level, labelled “waystage or elementary”, indicates an ability to deal with simple straightforward information and beginning to express oneself in familiar contexts.

  7. 7.

    See https://www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test [accessed 4 July 2017].

  8. 8.

    As mentioned earlier, A2, waystage, certifies that the candidate can understand commonly used, everyday phrases and expressions related to areas of experience especially relevant to them (basic information about themselves, and their families, shopping, places of interest, work, etc.); see: http://www.dele.org [accessed 4 July 2017].

  9. 9.

    “The information [on Language of origin and languages usually spoken at home] is drawn from the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). It considers information on: (1) one or two languages that respondents [adults aged between 16 and 65 at the timt of the survey] stated they had learned in childhood and still understood; (2) the language usually spoken at home” (OECD/EC 2015, p. 62).

  10. 10.

    Immigrant native-speakers are defined as “those who report that the host-country language is one of the two main languages they learned in childhood and still know” (OECD/EC 2015, p. 62).

  11. 11.

    The total (100%) was the population having no more than a lower-secondary level of education in terms of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 0–2), excluding those still in education (aged 15–64).

  12. 12.

    The Policy dashboard comprised three main policy areas: (1) the European Commission’s Action Plan “Promoting language learning and linguistic diversity 2004–2006” (EC 2003); (2) the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages (CoEU 1992); and (3) EU policies to promote social inclusion, focusing on language-based interventions and support for minorities and migrants.

  13. 13.

    The Evidence dashboard was used to assess the “evidence effectiveness” of the cases in the two databases. This effectiveness was defined by: soundness of effectiveness, transferability and sustainability; and the criteria used for the assessment combined three models: (1) the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) approach (http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1246&langId=en [accessed 7 July 2017]); (2) the Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) National Resource Centre approach, which aims to expand and strengthen the role of non-profit organisations in their ability to provide social services to low-income individuals; and (3) the Maryland scientific methods scale (SMS), a five-point scale ranging from 1, for evaluations based on simple cross sectional correlations, to 5 for randomised control trials (Sherman et al. 1997).

  14. 14.

    I am referring to the Eurozone recession 2008–2009. The degree to which individual EU member countries had (or had not) recovered from this by 2015, when the influx of refugees rose sharply, has also impacted national funding of social inclusion measures, including language courses.

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Bian, C. The potential of transnational language policy to promote social inclusion of immigrants: An analysis and evaluation of the European Union’s INCLUDE project. Int Rev Educ 63, 475–494 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-017-9655-0

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Keywords

  • Language learning
  • Social inclusion
  • INCLUDE project
  • Identity
  • Immigrants