Good practice: Language for Life (Taal Voor het Leven)

Developed in The Netherlands between 2012-15 by the Dutch Reading & Writing Foundation it aims at the enhancement of literacy, numeracy and digital capabilities. It targets low socioeconomic background / low-skilled immigrants and refugees. Detailed information is available in Dutch and partly in English, Turkish and Romanian.

The EAEA mentioned a programme named Language for Life, created as a collaboration between municipalities and organizers of Dutch language courses. The program represents and creates regional networks and infrastructure for educating people with stated deficits (for example, the group of migrants and elderly migrant societies). This network consists of healthcare, welfare and language organisations, as well as libraries, Regional Training Centres (ROCs), companies etc. Its purpose is oriented towards increasing literacy, numeracy and digital skills, improving mental and physical health and increasing social inclusion, opportunities for meeting new people and looking for a job, likewise to achieve better job incomes for individuals.

The Language directors and coaches in those programmes can be easily trained in each region to support individuals with a lack of basic skills. A combination of teachers, trained volunteers and good teaching materials generates the most effect of the program.

The methodological concept of Literacy hubs is easily adaptable to other European countries, as well as the fact that trainings need to be held in the learners’ own environment. A Literacy hub is a low-threshold facility in the neighbourhood that provides information to people with literacy problems, volunteers and teachers. The Hubs are located in public libraries, within companies, employment agencies and hospitals.

The Literacy Screener as part of the programme is an online tool that can identify possible literacy problems in 12 minutes. The instrument is valid, objective and reliable, and designed for organisations that want a quick indication of the literacy level of their customers, clients or employees. In five years, over 40,000 people have completed the Literacy Screener and, thanks to the screener, approximately 40% of people with low literacy skills have begun training. More than 200 organisations in The Netherlands use the screener, including employment services, municipalities and companies. Following translation and adaptation to the local context, the screening instruments can be used in any European country (it is already available online as free a demo version in English, Turkish and Romanian). In addition, anyone can easily use the developed Numeracy & Digi Screener to quickly check their calculation skills and identify digital skills.