Challenges of (Global) Migration for Language Policies and Language Teaching

Reference work entry


Educational systems are often slow in reacting to demographic developments, in particular when it comes to accommodating the needs of migrants. Also, traditional language policies – which are supposed to translate into the educational system, curricula, teaching materials, and pedagogy – are often inspired by educational and political ideologies of a regional, national, or international government. They set ideological goals based either on traditional cultural values or on indefinite or idealistic ambitions but are not necessarily grounded in societal fact, reality, or necessity.

The chapter takes issue with language policies and contrasts them with a pragmatic framework of language learning and language use. The pragmatic model of language policies presented here is in line with a linguistic notion of pragmatics as well as with usage-based assumptions of cognitive linguistics.

The chapter (1) describes the predominant orientation of approaches to language teaching; (2) discusses various language policies, such as the traditional lingua cultura and lingua franca approaches, ad hoc policies to cope with mass migration, and migrant language policies such as the rather restrictive French framework, the liberal Swedish model, and the “moderate” German practice; and (3) presents programmatic aspects of a new kind of pragmatic multi-language policy that aims at usable and conceptual competences of a learner rather than abstract and formal knowledge of linguistic structures or euphemistic ideals of international communication standards.


Language policy Language teaching/learning Migrant languages International languages Ideologies Cultural capital Pragmatics Intercultural utopia 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MunichMunichGermany

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