This contribution investigates the rationale and implementation of an employment policy that envisions the quick insertion of migrants in the labour market through short and intensive language learning. We present an ethnographic analysis of a short and intensive course of Dutch for migrant job seekers developed in the context of Flemish employment policy. Our data show that the policy is framed in a discourse of empowerment and efficiency, but in its implementation focuses strongly on surveillance, the punitive consequences of which are tacitly attenuated by the practitioners implementing it. The drive towards quick and efficient language learning could be seen to conflict with the unpredictable nature of language learning. A focus on short-term language learning and quick professionalisation trajectories moreover seems to push migrants into low-skilled, precarious employment and to have stratificational outcomes along gendered lines. While arguing for the need to raise awareness of the way gender intersects with issues of language learning and professional integration, this contribution also reflects on the limitations of language learning as a strategy for migrants’ empowerment and contends that an exclusive focus on language as the key to integration erases the structural factors that produce inequality on the labour market.
|Number of pages||22|
|Journal||International Journal of the Sociology of Language|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2020|