The Target Groups and the Tools

This section of the guide, is dedicated to preparing the facilitator to assist end users who work with a blended target group or exclusively with migrants and refugees. The content herein will provide the facilitator with some of the background knowledge necessary to train end users in the use of the tools for these specific groups, and to address the diverse needs that these groups might have.

Because people with a migrant or refugee background may have different education attainment and cognitive levels, it is important to differentiate between nationals, migrants and refugees, when working with the tools, and you need to keep this in mind when you are running a L2W workshop. The project presupposes that the target group, who falls in the category migrant or refugee, has a level of language proficiency corresponding to between A2 and B1 level of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

Ultimately, the LIVE2WORK facilitator should strive to achieve the same outcomes as the outcomes and aims as those for native speakers/nationals; the development of soft skills, promoting building new life stories. For end users who work in refugee/language centres, or organisations that combine language and work training, the end user should underline that the focus must be solely on completing the activities as described in the toolbox, rather than focusing on language training.

Knowing that the L2W materials have been conceived for a target audience composed by professionally vulnerable young adults, migrants and refugees, of whom many may have low literacy skills, it is important that the facilitator of the L2W materials bears in mind the following aspects in regard to the target group with a refugee or migrant background:

  • Knowing that the L2W project also caters to aiding end users who work with refugees and migrants, many with limited literacy and numeracy skills. It is crucial to insist that end user is aware of his/ her audience when facilitating the L2W materials in a participant-centred approach
  • In accordance to current researchmany refugees may present symptoms of post-traumatic stress, this does not necessarily reduce their ability to function. In general, present stressors – basic personal needs, family needs, racism, discrimination – cause greater distress to refugees than the traumas of the past[1]
  • It is very important that the L2W end user have the experience of working with/ or interacting with target groups with this specific background, their motivation to participate in the programme or session, and how important it is for them to go through the content of the materials.
  • The end user must also bear in mind that he/she is working with a target group whose priority is to find a job in a society that is completely new to him/her besides the difficulties that the host country language presents to him/her, the anxiety felt over the perceived hurdles of trying to fit in in a new social context. The end user must create a dynamic and content relevant class environment thus positively reframing and continuously motivating the target group
  • Current research[2] points to the issue that “the less education one has, the more difficult it is to profit from formal education, where organisation and thinking skills and school-based skills are needed to succeed”. The L2W end user should, therefore, be aware that the progress of his/her participants may take place at a different pace than their peers, since these participants’ needs are complex due to reduced concentration levels and short-term memory. For these reasons, the L2W facilitator should insist on not having more than 5-6 participants in a session.
  • It is advisable that the L2W end user acquires as much knowledge as possible about the world situation regarding the massive displacements of people, may it be due to war, climate change, poverty, exclusion, etc.
  • The L2W end user ought to develop awareness of how his/her culture impacts the way he/she sees and relates to people from other cultures and religions; develop a capacity to be empathic and non-judgemental towards those who have different cultures and past experiences.
  • It is recommended that the L2W end user perceives refugees and/or migrants as resilient, more than traumatised people.

For participants with an A2 or lower B1 language proficiency, it can be helpful to emphasise the benefits to your end users, of making use of visual aids or letting groups carry out some of the tasks in their own language, in order to offer the availability of more in depth conversations and enabling reflection (thinking about their own thinking).

For end users who work with target groups of mixed language skills, the workshop facilitator should emphasise that it can be helpful for participants with stronger language skills to assist weaker participants by translating the tasks at hand. Furthermore, if end users work with groups who speak one or a few specific languages, they could also translate the handouts to these languages. In this way, the participant has the option of reading and understanding the task descriptions themselves and in their own language. It would be advisable to include a trainer, who is proficient in the language and is able to clarify some of the concepts.

For professionals working with groups of people with limited literacy levels, it is possible to recommend the use of text to speech apps that can scan and read a text from paper or read text already on a device. Working with groups of people with different literacy levels, it is also possible to ask more proficient readers to assist those who are less proficient.

[1] present stressors – basic personal needs, family needs, racism, discrimination – cause greater distress to refugees than the traumas of the past


Examples of some free text to speech apps – English

The importance of social norms

When working with target groups with a migrant or refugee background, it might also be important for the end user to consider cultural differences, and how to approach these. One of the main issues to be aware of, is the difference in social norms. These are not automatically apparent, as they lay beneath the surface.

Social norms are basically unwritten rules, that most people within a society adhere to. Not being aware of these differences can, in some cases, lead to conflict or culture clash. Some examples of such norms can be:

  • Different concepts of time
  • What men/women can/can’t do
  • What is good humour
  • What is polite or custom in one culture, can be rude or intrusive in another
  • How to deal with figures of authority (i.e. law enforcement/teachers/employers) may vary depending on the hierarchical structure of the society in question

In the absence of comparative information on the cultural life of others, history has shown us that some groups of newly arrived people may withdraw from society and consequently isolate themselves from their surrounding society. These people might then end up existing in a vacuum. A negative side effect of this; the individual continues to perpetuate the stereotypes that he or she has towards the host society and vice versa. Understanding how to navigate in the host society can therefore have a positive effect on newly arrived people, creating lasting change.

Gary Weaver (1986) uses the image of an iceberg to explain different layers of culture (see figure below) which can also help us hone in on the most important areas when working with newly arrived people. The list below shows some of the cultural issues that have an impact on our interactions:

Figure 3 The Cultural Iceberg based on Gary Weaver’s (1986) Cultural Iceberg

“Interculture” is a manifestation of what happens when two or more cultures meet and interact with each other. People from different cultures can have different traditions, points of view, experiences, knowledge and outlooks on life, depending on which culture, the individual grew up in or has been influenced by. “Interculture” is the intermediate “hybrid culture” which is created when several different cultures are joined together and create a new, often unprecedented new culture.

Social norms and intercultural understanding are closely linked, because they are formed through the social norms inherited through constant interaction with the people closest to the individual, and the society in which he or she has been brought up. When moving from one society and culture to another, these social norms can vary, and sometimes these variations can be considerable. Not realising that these differences exist, can have grave consequences. For this particular segment of the target group, the toolbox section about “Tolerance to Differences”, provides important tools to work with and develop awareness of differences of one self and perception of others and how to deal with these.

In general, the Toolbox aims to focus on the development of an individual’s strengths and resources and working in groups to assist him/her to become aware of and consider the strengths, skills, and resources of others. These tools can therefore also be extremely helpful in creating awareness of cultural differences, and how to deal with situations such as being faced with differences. (See activity 16 Perceptions and Tolerance to Differences from the toolbox.)

Creating Critical Cultural Awareness

The development of critical cultural awareness is essential for the target group. To ensure successful integration, he or she needs to avoid becoming stuck in negative stereotypes, over-generalisations, and limiting beliefs. To help us achieve this, Michael Byram (1997, 2012) has demonstrated the importance of critical cultural awareness. His perspective ons intercultural competencies is based on the following five dimensions;

Figure 4 Model of intercultural communicative competence

Diagram of Michael Byram’s (1997) Model of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) Müller- Hartmann, Andreas / Schocker-von Ditfurth; Marita (2007). Introduction to English Language Teaching. Stuttgart: Klett.

But what does this mean, and how can these areas be implemented in an intervention session with the target groups?


Attitudes and values are learned from a very early age. Every person is influenced by the people in their immediate surroundings, i.e. parents, teachers, and friends, but this can also include media and other influences. Attitudes are the unwritten rules, by which we live our lives and make our choices. It cannot be taken for granted that the target group is aware of these attitudes and beliefs, and it is imperative that the facilitator has the ability to reflect curiosity about, and is open to, other cultures and beliefs. It is also important that the facilitator is willing to relativize his or her own values, beliefs, behaviours, understand where differences come from, and have the ability to see how these might look from the perspective of an outsider.

How can this be implemented in the programme?

During discussion with target groups during programme, the end user must include as many perspectives and suggestions as possible. This can be achieved through the use of brainstorms to engage participants in bringing their own views to the discussions. One can also include opportunities to meet people from a workplace, or from the local community, to have discussions and get to know their attitudes and beliefs and create opportunities to learn about each other. The trainer can introduce topics based on values and attitudes and help the participants create questions to ask the guest. Make sure the participants have been prepared for the guest and emphasise the importance of keeping an open mind and respecting the views of others. The trainer can ask the target group to reflect on their beliefs about their host culture in conjunction with visits or encounters with locals regarding products, practices, and perspectives.

Skills of interpreting and relating

This describes an individual’s ability to interpret, explain, and relate events and documents from another culture to one’s own culture.

How can this be implemented in the programme?

Once the target group has spent time examining their attitudes and beliefs, participants can start to engage in tasks that encourage thoughtful and rational evaluation of perspectives, products, and practices related to the host culture. The toolbox chapter relating to Transitional skills includes activities that can be used for this purpose.

This will enable participants to draw from knowledge acquired during earlier phases to defend, with proof of rigorous inquiry and thoughtful reasoning, their beliefs about the host culture. Once the target group has acquired a deeper understanding of the target culture, their beliefs and attitudes will change, resulting in a more profound understanding of the host culture. Especially applying disputations to beliefs, and working with the cognitive diamond, is relevant in this stage.

This can also be achieved by working with tasks that involve taking the time to read, analyse or interpret scenarios (e.g. videos, role plays, narratives, podcasts). It is possible to, for example, discuss examples where conflicts arise due to misunderstandings. Set a scenario for the participants and ask them to analyse the situation. What has happened, why, and what do participants suggest could be done differently to circumvent the conflict?

Skills of discovery and interaction

The ability to acquire new knowledge of a culture/cultural practices and to operate knowledge, attitudes, skills in real-time communication and interaction.

How can this be implemented in the programme?

The trainer should create activities that encourage participants to consider new values and beliefs based on their own discoveries during situations of cooperative investigation. This means working to control the direction of own learning while the role of the trainer is that of a guide throughout the process of discovery. It is not the trainer’s role to push a personal viewpoint on the target group. The end user should instead create an open environment of inquiry in a way that inspires participants to discover the origins of judgments or stereotypes independently.


This is not only related to knowledge on one specific culture, rather:

  • Understanding how social groups and identities function
  • Knowledge about social processes and the results of these
  • Understanding other people and oneself
  • Understanding individual and societal interaction
  • Knowing and remembering facts about other countries
  • Awareness and knowledge about auto stereotypes (on own culture)
  • Awareness and knowledge about hetero-stereotypes (culture of others)

How can this be implemented in the programme?

Brainstorm the social groups that exist in the host society, as well as the target group’s countries of origins. Look for similarities between these societies. In this situation the participant can take into account the information from the other class members and learn about their backgrounds.

Use the Cultural Iceberg to illustrate social norms and discuss how this can be useful when interacting with others. Draw an iceberg on the board, and place words in the iceberg, where the participants help find nouns and/or verbs to write in the three levels. (see iceberg diagram on page 10 for inspiration). Have the target groups work on and do presentations about their home countries and invite guests from the local community for question and answer sessions about living in the host society.

Critical cultural awareness

The ability to evaluate critically on the basis of explicit criteria, perspectives, practices, products in one’s own and other cultures. Dealing with people from another culture always involves the task of evaluating the culture. This evaluation often leads to some sort of generalisation or stereotyping. When aiming for a critical evaluation of another culture, the participant must have acquired the other four levels of competences (Attitudes, Skills of Interpreting and Relating, Skills of Discovery and Interaction, and Knowledge), including a critical perspective on one’s own culture.

How can this be implemented in the programme?

Participants must be presented with opportunities to practice the skill of critical evaluation. Participants need to learn how to evaluate the practices, products, and perspectives of the host culture. Therefore, participants need time to identify and reflect upon preconceived ideas, judgments, and stereotypes toward individuals from the host culture. It is inevitable that a certain amount of predetermined ideas will be introduced to intercultural conversations. For this reason, it is the role of the trainer to guide participants in considering the origins of these preconceived notions, provide assistance in questioning the validity of these, and determining whether or not these judgments are rational or unsound.