Linguistic and socio-cultural adaptation of international migrants through education
On May 16 has been held a seminar in series "Culture Matters". During this seminar Elena Omelchenko, PhD, Associate Professor of the UNESCO Moscow Institute of Open Education, General Director of the "Ethnosphere", made a presentation on following topic "Language and socio-cultural adaptation of international migrants through education."
In her report E. Omelchenko has touched one of the most controversial issues of modern Russia - the problem of growing number of migrant workers and their adaptation to Russian culture. In European countries migration has become a part of process of globalization long time ago. According to the UN data of 2007 one of 35 people in the world is an international migrant. Since the beginning of XXI century proportion of foreign-born children between secondary school students is steadily growing in most European countries. These indexes are still quite low in Russia compared to Europe, but observed trends are the same. Ethno-social structure of individual cities and regions become more variegated, cultural diversity is increasing - mostly at the expense of ethnic groups whose cultural codes and attitudes are significantly different from those of host population.
It is generally known that adaptation to educational process for foreign students occurs later and slower than for local students. Main reason is poor host country language proficiency. Most of foreign students are children of migrant workers. Basically citizens of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan are working in Russia. Concerning to foreign countries there are a lot of citizens of China, Turkey, Vietnam, North Korea, Serbia and Montenegro. Generally adults are included in adaptation process through their child. However, only in 2012 issues of promotion of adaptation and integration of migrants have been actualized in migration policy of Russian Federation. Russian state and society continues to stand a number of problems related to optimization of migration situation, using both the positive and the leveling of the negative aspects of migration processes.
In the situation of interaction between migrants and host society the function of education is to transfer to newly arrived migrants language skills and prevailing social and cultural norms of society. Education plays crucial role in social aspects of migration policy and is able to both improve and complicate relations between migrants and host society. Kindergartens and schools play significant role not only as institutions of socialization, but also as instruments of integration and adaptation in host society for children of international migrants.
The success of integration of migrants into host society is primarily determined by knowledge of state language, ability to find a reasonably paid job, legal status and degree of participation in social and political life. Therefore, existing adaptation programs include both language training and familiarization with fundamentals of Russian history and culture, country's laws and regulations of everyday communication.
However, there are still serious differences between financing system of educational institutions and real situation. This leads to the curtailment of many programs that help international students adapt to host community. For Russian Federation the most promising is the practice of bringing both budget and funds for employers to finance adaptation programs for migrants.