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 2: Learner, L2 teacher, L2 learning provider, and job centre

● Learner
L2 teacher
L2 learning provider
Job centre
The key actors in this setting are the learner, the L2 teacher, the L2 learning provider, and the job centre.

The learners are mostly job seekers, but they may also be employees wanting to improve their L2 skills to find a better or more secure position.

The provision is classroom-based, and often structured as a course.

Work placements may be included, but visits to workplaces of interest to learners are more common.

Instruction is the predominant mode of support for learning, but with some support for self-directed and autonomous learning – such as encouraging internet research by learners, language observation tasks focused on communication at work or in everyday life outside the classroom; also,  peer-learning and peer-coaching.

This type of provision is usually initiated by the local labour market administration (municipality, job centre) and aims to integrate migrants into the labour market.

Examples of this setting

VIP (Netherlands) 

View example

L2 teacher competences

The teacher is familiar with

  • the local/regional labour market
  • the qualification structure and forms of education and vocational training provision available
  • procedures for the recognition of qualifications acquired abroad or informally
  • how to research education and VET (vocational education and training) systems of learners’ countries of origin
  • language and communication requirements in workplaces, which are of interest/accessible to own learners
  • methods of needs and requirements analysis and can adapt them to the concrete situation

The teacher is aware that

  • 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

The teacher is able to

  • cooperate with other actors/stakeholders, in particular with job centres, mentors, employers, VET teachers, supervisors, etc.
  • strike a balance between own aims/goals (as L2 teacher) and aims/goals and interests of the language provider, the labour market administration and those of the learner
  • assess language and communication requirements of specific workplaces, and work-related language needs and skills of learners
  • develop a realistic curriculum accordingly
  • negotiate the curriculum with learners and other relevant key actors, such as job centres to accommodate possible different needs/requirements
  • implement work-related language specific classroom management including use of digital and mobile devices, for example
    • by developing tasks which link classroom and workplace/every-day life
    • by enhancing learners’ capacity to identify language-related requirements in workplaces/jobs of interest for them
    • by enhancing learners’ capacity to self-evaluate and monitor own L2 progress
    • by using coaching approaches or initiating/supporting peer learning
  • implement blended learning
  • provide information, guidance and advice learners in work-related L2 issues

L2 Learning provider competences[1]

The provider is familiar with

  • local/regional labour market situation
  • the qualification structure and forms of education and vocational training provision available
  • procedures for the recognition of qualifications acquired abroad or informally
  • the educational and VET systems of the countries of origin of learners or is able and ready to search for such information
  • language and communication requirements in workplaces, which are of interest/accessible to own learners and requested by the local/regional labour market
  • legislation and regulation re the employment of migrants and refugees
  • legislation and regulation in training provision, especially in VET at workplace
  • language requirements of jobs of interest for learners and/or job centres
  • methods of needs and requirements analysis and can support own staff to implement/adapt them

The provider is aware of

  • staff needs and is ready to
    • support staff with whatever is needed: equipment, contacts for placements, visits, finding information on recognition of foreign qualifications, foreign educational systems, etc.
    • provide professional development, for example in response to new challenges of the labour market

The provider is able to

  • provide information and advice and guidance to support learners’ language and vocational development and/or support teachers to do so
  • network with, in particular
    • local employers in order to organise work placements, visits to companies, needs analysis, etc.
    • voluntary sectors, chambers of commerce, trade unions, employers’ associations, local government, round tables/initiatives to boost local economy, etc.
    • VET schools and centres
    • migrants’ organisations
  • raise awareness among non-educational actors of the difference between L2 needs  and educational needs due to lack of formal education and between language/communication and vocational competence
  • advise job centres on educational needs of clients or how to find out educational/language needs of clients
  • negotiate fair conditions for work placements, qualification courses, etc.
  • carry out needs and requirements analysis or support own staff to do so,
  • organise teachers/supervisors staff meetings to ensure the monitoring of training
  • organise steering committee to oversee all training
  • promote the issue of work-related L2 development and market own offer/provision with job centres and employer in different ways
  • reach out to gig-economy workers whose contracts are precarious(see extra dimension)
  • plan different sort of interventions, e.g. communication training for staff in job centres for accessible communication, advise employers on screening documents, how to support L2 development on the job, etc.

Job centre staff competences[2]

Job centre staff are familiar with

  • assessment and training systems and can advise clients accordingly
  • systems and procedures for the recognition of foreign qualifications or informally achieved qualifications and can advise clients accordingly
  • issues related to psycho-social situation of migrants in particular refugees (living, family, culture, housing, insecure life prospects, trauma, limited L2 networks, etc.)
  • language requirements for different jobs
  • barriers and enablers for L2 acquisition and development by adult migrants and refugees

Job centre staff are aware of

  • the catchment area and its needs
  • the different educational systems and educational backgrounds of the clients
  • how issues related to psycho-social situation of migrants and refugees may impact on L2 learning

Job centre staff are willing and able to

  • investigate the educational backgrounds of the clients, including the educational systems in their countries of origin

Job centre staff are able to

  • match needs and offers
  • investigate educational/language needs of clients
  • distinguish between L2 needs and educational needs of clients (e. g. those with limited, interrupted or no formal education)
  • reconcile needs of migrants with the requirements of the system
  • make some judgment on the L2 skills and language needs of clients
  • communicate accessibly (in writing and orally)
  • avoid taking either paternalistic or maternal positions in relation to clients

[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.

[2] Job centres are organisations providing support for labour market entry, including public organisations responsible for matching individuals in receipt of welfare benefits to employment opportunities. Competences are required of staff, including case managers.