Linguistic Integration of Adult Migrants with Poor Education and the Consequences of Migration Tests
Since the turn of the millennium, a number of European countries have introduced language and knowledge of society requirements for citizenship. In 2017, Norway followed the lead of other countries, by introducing a requirement to pass an oral language test, as well as a knowledge of society test in Norwegian for those applying for Norwegian citizenship. The requirement of Norwegian proficiency was increased in 2021, from A2 to B1. The Norwegian government argued that augmenting the language requirement was done in order to strengthen migrants’ motivation for language learning and integration. Whether or not such positive effects exist, is not yet known, and this question forms the basis for IMPECT’s research scope.
We are particularly interested in investigating the consequences of such requirements for adult migrants with little prior schooling and low levels of literacy. This is a group of learners for whom both teachers, NGOs and researchers have expressed particular concern when the new requirements have been introduced, in Norway as well as in other countries. Do the requirements indeed increase the motivation for language learning, or do such requirements introduce an element of stress, which on rather impedes learning for this group of learners?
To respond to these questions, we will firstly investigate requirements for citizenship in 40 European countries, and correlate the requirement policies with teachers’ experiences of how such requirements impact adult migrants with little prior schooling and low levels of literacy. We will discuss the ethical and test professional aspect of the requirement policy. Secondly, we will use a large data set containing test scores from the test of Norwegian for adult migrants (Norskprøven for voksne innvandrere), the Citizenship test (Statsborgerprøven) and background variables to investigate for what groups the requirements pose the largest barriers toward citizenship. And thirdly, we will interview a group of adult migrants with little prior schooling to gain a deeper understanding of how they are affected by language and knowledge of society requirements, which for some of them might pose an unsurmountable barrier.
The project group consists of researchers from Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, UK and Greece with professional backgrounds from language test research and test ethics, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics and law.