Through previous research, we know relatively much about the school's role in fostering the transitions of migrants into Swedish society. We know less about the role of civil society in the integration process, especially with regard to linguistic integration. This policy brief, written by Gunilla Jansson, professor at the Department of Swedish and Multilingualism, Stockholm University, and Silvia Kunitz, senior lecturer at the Department of Language, Literature and Interculture at Karlstad University, presents the results from the project “The Language Café as a social meeting place and arena for language training”. The project, which is funded by the Swedish Research Council, contributes new knowledge about language cafés run by civil society actors and their role for the linguistic integration of newly arrived migrants.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • An inclusive environment leads to favourable conditions for language training and relationship building. It is important that both the migrant and Swedish-speaking visitors see the meetings at the language cafés as an opportunity to share knowledge and exchange information.
  • Favorable conditions for successful language learning via language cafés are created by combining different types of language learning activities according to the participants' needs. Practical activities (for example singing and dancing), communicative activities (for example small talk) and activities focusing on language form (for example vocabulary and grammar) should be combined and adapted in the light of the participants' differences and language skills.
  • Access to multilingual competence during the conversations at the language cafés is important for everyone to be able to participate and follow in the conversations. It can also help solve comprehension problems. Understanding the meaning of words is important in language learning, where the study shows the benefit of all participants contributing to explaining words and expressions.

Policy Brief 2020:8 is only available in Swedish.

Picture by Giulia Bertelli from Unsplash.