Language for work matters

As migration increases worldwide and European economies are increasingly dependent on migrant workers, the issue of language skills development in the language(s) of the host country (L2) is of growing importance. Migrants need work-related L2 skills to find suitable employment, participate in work and society, and progress. Employers need L2-competent employees to offer quality products and services for the benefit of the whole society. Work-related L2 development is a democratic, social and economic imperative: it is an issue of social justice and peace as well as economic development for individuals, economies and whole societies. This paper seeks to give evidence why L2 for work matters: it highlights the interdependency of work, technology and communication and the central role of communication and language, understood as social practice, in today’s workplaces. It illustrates the language requirements and needs for migrant workers. It offers examples of how to support work-related L2 learning in formal, non-formal and informal learning environments. The paper draws on research and practices across Europe collected and further developed by the Language for Work (LfW) project. LfW refers to two European projects and an international network sponsored by the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML), an agency of the Council of Europe. It concludes with an invitation for researchers to investigate how digitisation will impact communication at work and for work and how people react to it, in order to develop a proper offer for formal, non-formal and informal L2 learning.

KEYWORDS: migration, ECML, L2 development, merging technology, vocational education and training, VET

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