Language learning to support active social inclusion: Issues and challenges for lifelong learning

  • 30 May 2017
IRE cover

International Review of Education - Journal of Lifelong Learning

Authors: Suzanne Majhanovich, Marie-Christine Deyrich

Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 435–452


The EU currently comprises 28 member countries with 24 official languages. However, there are actually many more minority language groups within various nations resulting in even greater diversity. The recent influx of large numbers of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, most of whom are arriving without a working knowledge of any of the official European languages, further complicates the matter. […] In this ethnically highly diverse context, it is important to foster social inclusion and active citizen participation if the European Union is to function democratically in a peaceful fashion, and be economically successful. Since language is related to access to democratic processes, a democratic language policy is essential. This special issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning showcases the work of a major European Union (EU) project called INCLUDE (2013–2016), which aimed to raise awareness and, through its network, foster sharing and joint action in the field of linguistic policy for active inclusion purposes. […] This special issue was developed in the spirit of making the INCLUDE project, its workings and findings accessible to a research community beyond the European Community borders. It features articles from some of the research participants and from some of those who have embraced the approaches to language acquisition for social inclusion as well as committing themselves to the premise that language learning encompasses sensitive questions related to diversity, identity and culture. […]

Lifelong learning is of high relevance for citizens of the world to come to terms with a new reality of diversity. The seven articles in this special issue touch on the areas concerned with linguistic policy and planning to address language learning in a pluralistic society, support for minority languages and actions to encourage inclusion. Of special importance is the language learning approach involving Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), alongside similar approaches which promote content learning through the medium of a different language from the majority language of the students. The first three papers deal with the above issues. The other four articles provide case studies of innovative practices in language learning which can lead to inclusion. These papers describe special language learning classes and approaches for school-age children and adolescents as well an example of special programming for adult migrant women language learners.

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