Book: Language in Education for Migrants and Refugees

The full book is available on the UNESCO website

The issues related to migrants and refugees are more acute than ever. The free e-book Approaches to Language in Education for Migrants and Refugees in the Asia-Pacific Region looks into the issue of language in education for these people on the move. The book is published by UNESCO Bangkok and Kathleen Heugh was the first author, but many others also contributed to this 40 page book.

The book looks into issues like the migration trends, the rationale for focusing on language, the policy gaps, some important principles and proven pedagogy is as well as some case studies from Asia and the Pacific. 

Let me highlight here the stated principles:
  • Promote the linguistic diversity in the classroom as a resource as opposed to treating it as a problem.
  • Reference supportive legal frameworks. The book lists several helpful UN documents but also to the Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World.
  • Encourage participatory approaches to policy development. Involving the displaced community in setting the policies related to their language has proven to be very effective.

Also, the list of Proven Pedagogies is interesting:

  • Functional multilingualism: people use their various languages for different purposes.
  • Translanguaging: the fluid use of two or more languages in conversation.
  • Transknowledging: many traditional societies have their own systems for understanding mathematical, scientific, engineering, medical, and legal principles.
  • Funds of knowledge: deliberately invite students to bring to school the knowledge that they have learned in their homes and communities.
  • Culturally-sustaining pedagogies: The importance of culture when teaching students from diverse backgrounds, languages and beliefs.

It seems an important read while realising that it is not only Covid-19 that should get our attention!