Roles and competences of

Language Volunteers in Migrant Education

To participate in society, migrants must be language proficient. In learning the language of their new home country, they are often supported by local volunteers.

The VIME project has provided better understanding of the roles of these language volunteers. It now offers tools and training for improving their competences - for you to download from this website.

"Their ​efforts are priceless".

Language volunteers

You are invited to study and download the documents below.

Please feel free to use them to further the effectiveness of language volunteers in your community.

For more information or possible cooperation, you can contact the VIME project partners HERE.

The VIME model

The VIME model identifies three distinct domains in which language learning by migrants can be facilitated. The three domains should be seen as having ‘fuzzy’ boundaries with overlap between them in the work of particular organizations.

  1. In formal education engagement, a qualified classroom teacher leads group learning, leading to recognized qualifications as part of a formal education pathway.
  2. Non-formal educational engagement can be classroom based, but is not part of the formal system and does not lead to qualifications.
  3. Social engagement activities (e.g. cooking clubs, gardening groups, choirs, or sports) can also provide important support to the language learning of adult migrants. These activities have no explicit language learning goal, but provide opportunities for language use, as well as social support, and cultural integration.

For language volunteers, the VIME model describes four distinct roles within these domains:

  1. The Language Assistant works inside the classroom, providing extra help for individuals or small groups.
  2. The Language Coach works in the learner’s home or a public space or a community venue to support individuals or small groups.
  3. The focus of the Language Buddy is social support, e.g. helping the adult migrant to understand official letters and complete forms. 
  4. The Language Champion works actively to engage adult migrants in language learning activities.



Selection tools

As a coordinator, you can use these selection tools to match language volunteers to specific roles - and also to exclude them from carrying out roles they are not suitable for.

Furthermore you can use these tools to match language volunteers to learners.

Migrant education


to the selection tools

for volunteers

for learners


With these training modules for language volunteers, you can support them in carrying out their specific roles and acquiring the appropriate skills regarding their volunteer work with migrants who need to learn a second language. At the end of the training course, your language volunteers have a clear picture of:

  • what language volunteer work involves: they know what supporting a language learner means
  • the three roles of language volunteers: language assistant, language coach and language buddy
  • how they can support a language learner: they know what to do while supporting a language learner.
Training language volunteers

You can hand out the certificate after a volunteer has completed the training.

to the training modules




for volunteers

Training module 1
How a language is learned

Training module 2
Working 1-on-1 and in groups

Training module 3
The bigger picture


This guide outlines what policy makers can do to improve the quality and effectiveness of migrant language education. Because, to meet the demand for migrant language education, there is a need for greater numbers of trained educators. And language volunteers are more and more important in meeting this demand in cooperation with professional educators.

Policy making


Guide for language professionals

As a second language teacher you lay the foundation for learners to be able to communicate and gain confidence to function in society. How they practice their newly acquired language skills outside the classroom is crucial to their progress. Volunteers can play an important and supportive part in helping learners practice.

This guide provides language professionals insights on the roles language volunteers can play, their duties and the reciprocity between professionals and volunteers.

Language teacher


VIME Project | 2016 - 2018 ©

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.