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European Centre for Modern Languages

Language for work competences

Competences helpful to professionals and others when supporting work-related majority language (L2) learning by migrants and ethnic minorities

Setting 4: Learner, L2 teacher, L2 learning provider, employer/management, colleagues (e.g. as mentors), trade unions and workers’ representatives

This setting focuses on the workplace and its actors and stakeholders: employers and managers; colleagues (as mentors), trade unions and workers’ representatives.   The learners are usually employees, but can also be job seekers. The learning may take place there directly at work and through work, or (partly) in the classroom on the premises of the company or of the language providers. Sometimes the support integrates formal, non-formal and informal learning. The focus is on the needs/requirements of the workplace. L2 development is necessary to meet the demands placed on language and communication skills through globalisation, changes in work content and organisation as well as new technologies and companies’ needs for L2-speaking employees. It aims to improve the work processes, the communication between management and employees and among them. It aims to contribute to securing jobs, improving the learners’ participation in work and enhancing their career prospects.

Examples of this setting

ArbetSam (Sweden) [#4][A1] [MG2] 

Engineering English (Canada) [#10]

Sprachtraining, Sprachcoaching, Sprachmentroing (Germany) [#29]

L2 teacher competences

The teacher is familiar with

  • the local/regional labour market situation
  • ethnographic methods and instruments to identify the language and communication needs of learners and employers
  • the impact that the specific psycho-social situations of migrants in particularly refugees may have on the language learning process (e.g. very limited networks with L2 speakers, co-presence of different languages in every-day life, etc., traumatic life experiences)

The teacher is ready and willing to

  • engage with the field of work in question
  • cooperate with labour market actors such as employers, HRM, supervisors, instructors, mentors trade unions, as well as job centres, etc.
  • engage in non-formal and informal learning arrangements
  • raise awareness among workplace actors of
    • the role of language as part of vocational competence
    • the basics of L2 acquisition by adults
    • the challenges of L2 learning by adult migrants, in particular those with limited, interrupted or no formal education

The teacher is aware that/of

  • education, work, administration are different functional systems with own aims and goals, requirements etc. and is ready to find a realistic and satisfactory interface for the work-related L2 development of the learners
  • learners’ different educational systems and backgrounds
  • the impact that the specific psycho-social situations of migrants in particularly refugees may have on the language learning process (e.g. very limited networks with L2 speakers, co-presence of different languages in every-day life, etc., traumatic life experiences)
  • particular challenges of learners with limited, interrupted or no formal education
  • own role, need to avoid taking paternalistic or maternal positions, taking sides, etc.

The teacher is able to

  • analyse the language and communication requirements in specific workplaces, and the work-related language needs of learners
  • develop a realistic curriculum accordingly
  • negotiate curriculum with managers and learners in order to accommodate possible different needs and interests
  • guide and advise learners on work-related L2 issues
  • guide and advise managers and other  workplace actors
  • apply different teaching methods and tools including digital devices, in particular
    • to link  the classroom with the workplace/every day L2 learning opportunities
    • to foster learners’ autonomy so that they can exploit the opportunities of living and working in the L2 environment
    • to support learners to identify L2 requirements in workplaces/jobs of interest for them
    • to enhance learners’ capability of self-evaluating and monitoring own L2 progress (helping them to identify concrete goals reached on a continuous basis and to name them)
  • Delegate specific questions from learners to professionals

L2 learning provider competences[1]

The provider is familiar with

  • the local/regional labour market situation
  • the language requirements of jobs in question, if not he is willing and able to identify them
  • legislation relevant to the employment of migrants and refugees
  • educational systems in countries of origin of learners or information sources
  • psycho-social situation of migrants and particularly refugees and its impact on (language) learning such as legal status, living, family, culture, housing, trauma, few L2 speaking networks etc.)

The provider is willing and able to

  • raise awareness among workplace actors of
    • the role of language as part of vocational competence
    • the basics of L2 acquisition
    • the challenges of L2 learning by adult migrants, in particular those with limited, interrupted or no formal education
  • reach out to ‘gig economy’ workers on precarious contracts (see extra dimension)
  • support and enable own staff to offer tailored L2 provision

The provider is aware that/of

  • work as a functional system is different from education, public administration, etc. with its own aims and goals, priorities, power relations, logics, dynamics, etc. and is willing to find an interface between own aims as L2 teachers, the aims of learners, providers, employers
  • learners’ different educational systems and backgrounds

The provider is able to

  • network, in particular with
    • employers in order to organise work placements, needs analysis, etc.
    • actors and stakeholders such as chambers of commerce, trade unions, employers’ associations, local government, round tables/initiatives to boost local economy etc.
    • VET schools and centres
    • migrants’ organisations
  • provide professional development for own staff
  • support teaching staff with whatever is needed: equipment, contacts for placements, visits.
  • provide information and advice and guidance (for learners) to support their language and vocational development
  • provide guidance and support for company actors (employer, managers, trade unions)
  • carry out needs analysis or support own staff to do so
  • promote the issue of work-related L2 development and market own offer/provision with job centres and employer
  • evaluate results and analyse impact
  • market own provision, in formal and informal ways
  • plan different sort of interventions, e. g. intercultural communication training for supervisors, screening of documents, etc.
 

[1] Learning providers are organisations providing L2 instruction, including adult education centres. Competences are required of anyone in the organisation who represents the provider with external actors

Employer/ management competences

Management is familiar with

  • the basics of L2 language learning, enablers and barriers
  • Relevant legislation and rules  particularly re the employment of migrants and refugees
  • how and where to get support e.g. learning providers for language teaching, language needs and requirements analysis, assessment of individual language skills
  • tools available for better communication in the workplace: e.g. how to talk to employees about language learning needs, how to discuss language requirements with other staff, how to use reflective discussions to improve language etc.

Management is aware that/of

  • language is not learnt automatically when someone is in employment
  • language and communicative skills that are needed for the particular workplace and for employment (can be related to the CEFR; general or specific, but often a more specific description is needed)

Management is able to

  • create routines that support language development in the workplace
  • connect language learning with the operational development of the work activity
  • Identify (and combine) funding sources
  • develop a language policy and a strategy for language in the workplace

Staff competences

Staff are familiar with

  • local procedures regarding what to do and who to contact when misunderstandings arise

Staff are open-minded towards

  • colleagues speaking another language, and/or with a different cultural background 

Supervisor/trainer/language champion, etc., competences

Supervisors/trainers etc., are familiar with

  • ways of supporting L2 learners, in particular how to give support without taking over the work task
  • the basics of language, communication, inclusion and intercultural issues
  • different tools for correcting language and solving misunderstandings etc.
  • simple tools and methods for creative language development
  • basic digital competence

Supervisors/trainers etc., are aware

  • of what language is needed for the particular workplace, task, etc.

Supervisors/trainers etc., are able to

  • cooperate with other supervisors, key persons in the workplace, teachers etc.
  • give management relevant information and help to establish routines and a supportive environment for language learning

Trade union staff competences

Trade union staff are familiar with

  • the basics of L2 acquisition by adults: enablers and barriers

Trade union staff are aware that/of

  • central role of language in modern workplaces as
    • part of vocational competence
    • necessary for participation
  • strategies may be needed to communicate effectively with migrant workers who are still developing L2 communicative competence

Trade union staff are able to

  • communicate effectively with migrant workers who are still developing L2 communicative competence