Adult Migrants’ Language Training in Austria

Ildikó Zakariás' and Nora Al-Awami's article Adult Migrants’ Language Training in Austria: The Role of Central and Eastern European Teachers was published in Social Inclusion issue Vol. 11, Issue 4.


Language has gained increasing importance in immigration policies in Western European states, with a new model of citizenship, the ius linguarum (Fejes, 2019; Fortier, 2022), at its core. Accordingly, command of the (national) languages of host states operates both as a resource and as an ideological framework, legitimating the reproduction of inequalities among various migrant and non-migrant groups. In this article, we analyse the implications of such processes in the context of state-subsidised language teaching for refugees and migrants in Austria. Specifically, the article aims to explore labour migration, namely that of Central and Eastern European (CEE, including EU and non-EU citizen) professionals—mainly language teachers who enter the field of adult language teaching in Austria seeking a living and career prospects that they cannot find in the significantly underpaid educational sectors of CEE states. This article shows that the arrival of CEE professionals into these difficult and precarious jobs is enabled first by historical processes linking the CEE region to former political and economic power centres. Second, it is facilitated by legal, administrative, and symbolic processes that construct CEE citizens as second-order teachers in the field of migrant education in Austria. Our article, based on ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews, highlights nuanced ways in which historically, economically, and politically embedded language geographies contribute to the reproduction of hierarchies of membership, inclusion, and exclusion in present-day immigration societies.