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    Programme 2016-2019
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    language in subjects
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    Step 1: Planning

Developing language awareness in subject classes

1. Introduction

  • The increasing number of migrants in Europe has challenged the education system.
  • Education is important for inclusion and participation in society.
  • The language of schooling refers to the language through which students acquire knowledge at school.
  • There is a language dimension in every subject.

Migration rates in Europe have increased considerably in recent years (OECD 2017a) with many European countries opening their borders to asylum seekers and refugees. This has led to a growing number of people in need of work and study.

Several studies have demonstrated a high correlation between the probability of getting a job and the level of education. The OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics (2017b) states that:

Countries see a successful education system as a vital element of their social and economic development. Human capital has long been identified as a key factor in battling unemployment and low pay and there is also robust evidence that it is an important determinant of economic growth. Moreover, there is emerging evidence that it is associated with a wide range of non-economic benefits, including improvements in health, stronger civic and social engagement, and a greater sense of well-being. This introduction presents the purpose of this handbook, the targeted audience and how this publication is structured.

In other words, education is an important contributing factor to inclusion, benefits and success in life. The logical question is then how can Europe ensure that migrants have access to an education system, which enables them to achieve their full potential? To meet this challenge, several stakeholders at different levels, both nationally and locally, are required. For example, in communities and municipalities, the school administration and teachers constantly face this new challenge as their students have increasingly multicultural and multilingual backgrounds.

In school, all knowledge building is achieved through language. This is why the students need to have sufficient skills in the language of schooling. In many countries, there is only one language of schooling (e.g. Norway and France), in others there are two or more languages of schooling (e.g. in Finland both Finnish and Swedish).

Read more about the language of schooling…

Language Awareness network meeting participant’s statements