People communicate in many different ways. They communicate with their expressions, they can communicate through actions, music, and arts but most importantly, through speech. Language has always been a barrier between different countries and a way to show diversity and difference.
For migrants, the language barrier is not just a problem that they can surpass easily. It is something that can hold them back and delay their integration into a new society. Not being able to communicate with the people they have to associate with every day is frustrating on many different levels.
Learning a Foreign Language
Now the common idea is that migrants need to learn the language of the country they are going to live, in order for them to be able to communicate. However, is this the only acceptable good practice to solve this problem?
Yes, of course, migrants need to learn the language of the country they live in, or at least be able to speak English. As the universal language, it can make things a lot easier for them in the beginning. However, let us take a moment to think about some of the most important information regarding migrant groups.
There are many reasons why a person might migrate to another country. If the migration is willing, meaning that the person was planning to do it for a while, for any given reason, that person is responsible for preparing and making sure that they are going to integrate into the society of a new country.
However, when we are talking about forced migration, like for example migration from countries that are suffering from war, then we need to understand that these people have already been dealing with a lot for a while. Some of those people may have lost their loved ones and everything they have worked for.
Local Societies, Helping
The people that are part of local European societies need to remember that in times of need, people come together and help each other. Migrants are people who are just as important as the next person. Being forced to abandon your home and to live in a place you did not choose is bad enough.
Learning the language of a community of migrants is a great way to help them start integrating into your local society. In their effort to learn your language, you will be able to explain a few things that might be a bit more difficult to understand simply because you will be able to speak a few words of their language.
Moreover, learning a new language is like getting a skill. There are never enough skills to acquire. UNESCO has recently established the 4 pillars to reshape learning for the 21st century. The fourth speaks of LEARNING TO LIVE TOGETHER: exposing people to the implicit values of human rights, democratic principles, intercultural understanding and respect and peace at every social and relational level, to allow them to live in peace and harmony.
Solutions Through Projects
Aiming to help these actions, IED is one of the partners implementing the WIDTH project. The project aims at fostering integration and social inclusion of migrants and other disadvantaged people, especially women, through training in the linguistic, civic and social-working fields thanks to proximity devices, facilitating access and information, in connection with education networks for adults and other territorial institutions.
The project also intends to equip teachers with a wealth of innovative tools that promote the design of training activities for disadvantaged people, through guidance and support processes, to promote the development and recognition of adult skills. In this way, we will invest in improving the effectiveness and quality of the learning methodology, within targeted training paths, also through new technologies.