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Language integration of labour migrants in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden from a historical perspective


  • Höhne, Jutta


The paper investigates the language integration of adult labour migrants in six major West-European immigration countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden) for the period between 1965 and the mid-1990s. Results reveal quite different national approaches to the problem. Whereas in Sweden, France and Germany, migrants' linguistic integration was addressed by state authorities well ahead of establishing integration policy as a governmental task, the other countries under study ignored immigrants' possible language problems until the early or even late 1980s. Compared to the intense and sophisticated contemporary integration courses, the didactic quality of language courses taught between the 1960s-1990s was overall rather poor, and course durations were quite short. Best-practice standards had been set since the early years of labor migration by Sweden where the government financed language courses already from 1965 on. The countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria) that were already reluctant in the early years to set up language courses for immigrants still provide comparably less state-funded language tuition to immigrants today.

Suggested Citation

  • Höhne, Jutta, 2013. "Language integration of labour migrants in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden from a historical perspective," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Migration, Integration, Transnationalization SP VI 2013-101, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmit:spvi2013101

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