Education interventions supporting newly arrived migrant and displaced children in their language learning needs

NESET Ad Hoc Report, 2022

More than 7 million people have fled Ukraine to Europe since the start of the war on 24 February 2022, with estimates suggesting that half of them are children. This presents additional responsibilities for the education systems in receiving countries to provide space and conditions that enable these newly arriving children to learn and thrive. Although the present influx of refugees into the EU is not a new phenomenon, the number of children and adolescents arriving from Ukraine is unprecedented in terms of its scale within such a short time span. In this context, EU Member States face the challenge of quickly including children from another country, taking care of their specific needs, and helping them to become acquainted with a new environment. In addition, these children require support in learning a new language and maintaining their level of proficiency in their native language. An unprecedented characteristic of the current refugee crisis was the early decision by the European Union to activate its temporary protection scheme, allowing the millions fleeing war in Ukraine to benefit from harmonised rights protection measures. EU countries are granting access to their education systems to persons under 18 years old who benefit from the temporary protection status, under the same conditions as their own nationals and EU citizens. Given the wide diversity of inspirational practices across Europe with regard to the inclusion into schools of newly arrived migrants and children with migrant backgrounds, it is important to take stock and learn from such examples.

The aim of this report is to map (non-exhaustively) emerging practices on language provision to address the linguistic needs of children fleeing form Ukraine and other countries, as well as to document some existing approaches to language teaching that can be quickly adopted to support the integration of Ukrainian children and other refugees. The paper also reflects on a number of systemic conditions that must be nurtured in order to create, in the long run, linguistically inclusive school systems that welcome and support the individual linguistic development of all children with different home languages, including those migrant and refugee learners yet to arrive. 

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