Does Ireland have the answer for integration?

04 April 2008

Ireland’s fast-track scheme to help immigrants with refugee status into their host communities uses a mixture of intense language classes, practical skills and learning about the systems and culture of Ireland. Could England’s plans to foster citizenship in the immigrant community benefit from this approach?

The Integrate Ireland Language and Training scheme uses a combination of intensive language learning with self-directed practical skills - immigrants can choose the areas of language learning of most use to them, and set their own goals. The system is underpinned by the European Languages Portfolio.

Professor David Little of the Trinity College Dublin, is a keen advocate of this form of teaching and its effects on integration. Next week at the University of Cambridge, he will be addressing an international conference of the Association of Language Teachers in Europe and outlining how the system works.

The Association of Language Teachers in Europe Conference is an international event which will be attended by 500+ language experts around the world.

One of the themes of the conference forum is Language testing, migration and social inclusion. It focuses directly on the current debate concerning the use of language tests in the context of migration and citizenship, and touches on some of the points on engaging newcomers made by Lord Goldsmith in his paper: Citizenship: Our Common Bond.

The conference takes place at the University of Cambridge from April 10-12.