On Tuesday, February 4, Dr. Betty Lanteigne, from the English Department, presented a summary of parliamentary discussion at the 4th International Conference “Achieving Equal Opportunities for All Migrants through Learning and Assessment: Language and knowledge of society requirements for migrants in Council of Europe member states”. The conference was co-organized by the Council of Europe and the Association of Language Testers of Europe, which took place earlier in Strasbourg, France. Dr. Lanteigne summarized the research presented at the conference, including a 10-year project by COE/ ALTE surveying COE member states' policies regarding their requirements for migrants in terms of language proficiency and knowledge of host country society. COE countries have extremely varied language requirements and knowledge of society requirements for migrants prior to arrival, and for temporary residency, permanent residency, and citizenship. This huge range of required language proficiency levels for the same function in different countries is a cause of great concern for language testers and human rights advocates in regards to the impact of the language tests on vulnerable populations. Dr. Lanteigne reflected on the recommendations arising from the conference: awareness of the value of plurilingualism; language courses and knowledge of society courses being more effective than tests in terms of social integration of migrants; necessity to use language tests appropriately, accurately, and ethically; and need to provide accommodation for vulnerable groups.
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