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Topic 1

Methodologies of teaching languages of schooling to newly arrived students with migrant background

What does language of schooling mean?


The term language of schooling defines the official language of a nation/region, the majority language or mother tongue, which includes both the language taught as school subject on its own and the language of instruction used to teach other disciplines ¹ ² ³.

Language is an essential instrument for successful inclusion of newly arrived students with migrant background both at school and beyond. Across the EU, educational systems are more frequently faced with linguistically heterogeneous contexts and with the challenging responsibility to provide learners with appropriate linguistic and intercultural competences to become active and responsible citizens.


1 Maledive. (2012-2015). Teaching the language of schooling in the context of diversity. Retrieved from ECML:

2 Council of Europe. Language policy - Languages of schooling. Retrieved from Council of Europe Portal:

3 Krumm, H.-J., & Plutzar, V. (2008). Tailoring language provision and requirements to the needs and capacities of adult migrants. Retrieved from Council of Europe Portal:


Watch the video to learn more about Topic 1 contents.

Languages of schooling are the backbone of plurilingual and intercultural education⁴


This chapter provides teachers with the good practice retrieved from the previous experience of the TANDEM NOW project, which focused on the use of the mentoring methodology to foster the linguistic integration of migrants. TANDEM NOW’s good practice can be upscaled by moving from the VET learning environment to the school context, in order to enhance its adaptability to the new contexts in order to enhance its adaptability to the new contexts and end-users.

In particular, the so-called “Peer-to-peer mentoring” methodology is described here, in order to help teachers foster the linguistic integration, motivation and autonomy of newcomer students with migrant background.

At school, the “Peer-to-peer mentoring” methodology can be implemented through a series of specific activities, including detailed instructions and practical exercises. Teachers can choose the most appropriate activity for his/her learning environment and practice it with the pairs of mentor/mentee. 

To ensure the effectiveness of the Peer-to-peer methodology and of the suggested activities, you can click on Check your knowledge!, to test what you have learnt at the end of

Topic 1.


4 Council of Europe. Plurilingual and intercultural education: Definition and Founding Principles. Retrieved from Council of Europe:

Intro / Video

Specific objectives


  • To learn how to use of peer-to-peer mentoring

  • To create innovative tailored responses for teaching languages of schooling


  • To contribute to the creation of plurilingual, intercultural learning environments 

  • To learn new words, associate them to concrete objects/concepts and select the most appropriate sentences for a given context

  • To strengthen their creativity and collaboration competences

Objectives / Outcomes

Learning outcomes


  • Apply a new methodology to foster linguistic integration

  • Use non-formal educational techniques to enhance migrant students’ motivation and autonomy

  • Contribute to a whole-school approach, by involving families and the overall society in non-formal educational activities


  • Improve migrant students’ competences in the language of the host country

  • Recognise opportunities for intercultural, plurilingual learning

  • Create more occasions for building new social bonds

Good practice


Once arrived in the host country, students with migrant background will be faced with a new culture, language, with an entire new reality, and will thus need special support in four main areas: language, learning, involvement of families and community, intercultural education.

Mentorship is a tailored learning methodology based on the guidance given by a mentor (a person with a certain level of experience) to a mentee (a person new to an experience/context). In the educational field, the entire process is generally monitored and supervised by a teacher.

The project TANDEM NOW was recognised as a Good Practice by the EU ET 2020 Working Group on Common Values and Inclusive Education 2016-2020, as part of the Compendium of Inspiring Practices on Inclusive and citizenship education. TANDEM NOW is a Transfer of Innovation project, funded by the EU’s Leonardo da Vinci programme. Implemented between 2007-2014, it was based on the transnational mentoring project TANDEM, which matched 60 youngsters, aged between 13-25 with some mentors having the same cultural background, in order to support their educational and training path.

TANDEM NOW was implemented by an international partnership, including organizations from: Austria, Turkey, Italy, Germany and Spain. The project responded to a common problem of many EU societies: youngsters with migrant background or from an ethnic minority tend to lack appropriate role models, which may limit their opportunities for educational and professional success.

More specifically, TANDEM NOW departed from two basic principles:

  1. Mentor and mentee are from the same ethnic/migration background: mentor and mentee were matched based on shared language and culture, which facilitated the mentor’s empathy and strengthened the mentee’s possibility to identify with his/her “guide”. 

  2. Blended mentoring: both face-to-face and online activities were implemented, to overcome spatial and temporal barriers and ensure the continuity of work. 


As a result of the project, mentors could enrich their personal qualifications and mentees could improve their self-esteem and their knowledge on their education and employment opportunities. Moreover, both mentors and mentees could strengthen their digital skill.

Good Practice



TANDEM NOW methodology is adapted here and upscaled by:

  • moving from the level of vocational education and training, to school education;

  • implementing a specific form of mentorship, namely peer-to-peer mentoring.



Peer mentoring will facilitate the student’s learning path and will create unique opportunities for building up their relations with same-age peers and for gradual social inclusion in the host country.

Let’s meet the mentee and the mentor!


  • Newly arrived student with migrant background, often with stressful, traumatic experiences

  • Scarce knowledge of host country language, culture and educational methodologies

  • Families may have difficulties in providing the necessary support

Is an added value for the school!


  • Has a certain knowledge of the school and surrounding society

  • Has an interest in other cultures

  • Wants to provide support to a classmate/schoolmate with migrant background, recently arrived


Has the right motivation to be a mentor!

What are the advantages of this good practice?

Advantages for mentees:

  • Simplified inclusion at school and beyond

  • Creation of positive relations with other students

  • Improvement of emotional well-being and of academic success



Advantages for mentors:

  • Acquisition of important soft skills

  • Strengthening of intercultural competences and creation of new relations

  • Gradual growth and involvement as active and responsible citizens


Which activities does peer mentoring include?

  • Help in doing homework and study;

  • Provision of useful information related to the school and surrounding community;

  • Involvement in extra-curricular and non-formal educational activities.

Step-by-step Description

Before matching students, pay attention to a series of elements:


Same or similar to make interactions more natural


To create harmony and overcome possible conflicts

Foreign Language

Possibly, pairs knowing the same language(s)


Mentorship is a responsibility: be respectful of your mate’s commitment!


Desire to acquire new knowledge and competences on cultural mediation, which will also contribute to the future inclusion in the labour market.

1. Create Pairs:

If you are working with minors, it may be necessary to ask parents’ consensus first of all. Bear in mind the elements above!

2. Start:

  • First meeting with teachers, students, parents to explain the program and ask the necessary authorizations

  • Identify the couples of mentors – mentees

  • Training of mentors and mentees on their roles

3. Develop-ment:

  • Regular meeting between mentors-mentees: depending on the school’s needs and possibilities

  • Monthly meetings mentors – teachers

4. Evalua-tion:

  • Diary or similar instrument to record mentors’ and mentees’ experience

  • Final questionnaire for students and teachers: to be developed according to the specific context.



Assessment tool ★1

Check your knowledge!

References and Useful Links:  

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