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    Supporting the linguistic integration of refugees from the Ukraine
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    Recommendations for teachers
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11 Council of Europe Recommendations to National Authorities
in relation to teachers

Member states should encourage teachers of all subjects to:

1. Consider the difficulties that learners face when they cannot speak the language of schooling.

A video about the experience of a migrant child in a maths class.

2. Pay particular attention to opportunities to bolster the confidence of refugee children.

Pay particular attention to opportunities to bolster the confidence of refugee children by:
  • using body language that reflects affirmation, valuing and welcoming the child even when it is not possible to understand what the child is saying; 
  • following the child’s lead, using whatever is meaningful to the child to initiate and develop communication; 
  •  finding out what subjects they like and by involving them in courses where the language dimension is relatively secondary, such as music, art and physical education.

An example of using different languages while playing games in physical education (in Spanish and French, age 6-12) .

3. Take advantage of all the linguistic resources these learners bring with them, especially the foreign languages they have already learned or started to learn, allowing and encouraging the use of home languages.

Celebrate linguistic diversity, viewing it as an opportunity for all learners in the classroom and as a means to develop a sense of togetherness.

Making diverse linguistic repertoires visible. This could also be used for a school exhibition with language portrayals of all learners.

Building on plurilingualism, key ideas and examples of activities.

Multilingualism in the classroom: Practical ways of including and involving all learners and their languages in classrooms, taken from a page of Promising Practices.

A toolkit developed after a ‘Supporting Multilingual Classrooms’ (ECML/EC Training and Consultancy) workshop in Ireland: a practical resource for primary school teachers.

Celebrating linguistic diversity: The European Day of Languages webpage – language facts, games and fun. Materials can be downloaded, for example the EDL language challenges handbook, in many languages, including Ukrainian.

Europanto  (in German) – A set of activities in which the learners are invited to use a mix of European languages in a playful way. in French: Parlez-vous Europanto

An opportunity to learn about languages: A downloadable book to be used in class for learning about and valuing all European languages: Welcome to a journey through Europe’s languages!

4. Become aware of the fact that the language used in class for learning can be different from the language used in everyday non-academic situations.

Misconceptions about languages
and plurilingualism

A quiz, available in Albanian, Armenian, Bosnian, Catalan, Croatian, Danish, English, Estonian, French, Frisian, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian

Language support and
scaffolding techniques in all subjects

Teaching tips for teachers of all subjects

Examples of learning materials in various subject with a focus on the language needed for learning and various scaffolding techniques (for novice, intermediate and advanced learners)

5. Reflect on learners’ specific needs according to different linguistic profiles.

You may have very different kinds of students in your class and such heterogenity can be discouraging. We would like to present you with three students who may be representative of some of the different profiles you encounter in your class.
Learner profiles

6. Reflect on learners’ linguistic needs by using tools for identifying linguistic needs in specific subjects.

Subject-specific descriptors that illustrate what learners can do in various subjects at different levels of proficiency, with an example for physical education and links to descriptors for maths and history/civics for ages 12/13 and 15/16

“Describing” does not have the same meaning in history, geography or science. This tool allows subject teachers to identify the language practices, which are relevant to their specific subject, individually or in collaboration with teachers of other subjects, in order to identify common points and differences between subjects  (with an example for biology and history)

A tool to help teachers to integrate content objectives and linguistic objectives in their subjects: what language do their students need to understand and express the content objectives?

A tool that allows teachers to realistically differentiate their language expectations for students at lower proficiency levels: how to adjust the language level while aiming at the same learning objectives

7. Combine content-based instruction with plurilingual and pluricultural approaches using students’ home languages in some activities, encouraging learners to learn about and express themselves on topics that are meaningful to them.

Various plurilingual activities

Translating texts/poems they like from their home language

8. Take advantage, where possible, of the links between Slavic languages.

Help learners to improve their language-learning skills by encouraging them to compare languages (the languages they know, the languages they are learning and other languages).

An example: comparing the same word in several languages which can be adapted for other words and other languages (including the languages the learners speak at home)

An example: comparing vocabulary for shopping in four languages, including the home language

An example: comparing grammatical structures in the languages learned in school and in the mother tongue (here the instructions are given in German)

Grammatical structures in various languages can be compared in the classroom even when the teacher doesn’t know the languages involved. A video showing a teacher doing so with Arabic and Russian (starts after the introduction at 2:34)

9. At least in the early stages of schooling, make use of aids to automatic translation (after having checked their general reliability), and allow Ukrainian children to do so.

10. Form durable pairs of children comprising a recently arrived child and another from the host community in order to create good conditions for mutual learning and companionship.

11. Keep formal assessment of refugee children to a minimum. 


Please note: the Recommendations below were developed as part of the LIAM project within the Council of Europe’s education programme. The ECML has, in some instances, made minor revisions to the original text and has included further guidance and links to resources for teachers. The ECML would like to thank the LIAM expert group for making these recommendations available.

Linguistic adaptation and integration in a new school system is a complex process. It is important to support children and their parents, as well as teachers, through the process and to ensure that they are not in any way stigmatised.