Good practices

‘Signs’ Goes North

‘Signs’ Goes North

Why ‘Signs’? And why do they go North?

The project “Signs” Goes North is based on the successful Signs methodology developed and piloted during the previous projects Signs in the City (2005-2007) and Beyond Signs in the City (2008 – 2010). These two projects were carried out under the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission in several cities of Southern and Central European countries.


The main concept of the “Signs” project is that city signs provide an easy, visual and clear way to promote language and culture while they also provide excellent material for language learning in ‘real life’ situations.

The ‘Signs’ Goes North project goes to five Northern cities – Rotterdam in The Netherlands, Söderhamn and Bollnäs in Sweden, Vejle in Denmark and Reykjavik in Iceland and promotes the learning of Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic languages respectively. “Signs” Goes North creates an innovative model to promote cultural diversity and social inclusion. It uses visual representations (photography of city signs, videos of everyday life) and storytelling to introduce refugees and newly arrived migrants to the city’s local languages and cultures and in parallel to introduce the local population to the language and culture of the refugees and migrants. It provides trainers with innovative tools and approaches to help newcomers integrate better in the new society.

Year(s): 2017 -2019

Target group(s): Educators / social workers in the fields of integration of newcomers / newcomers / migrants

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Language educators and social workers are trained how to use the Signs materials in their integration programs by using the signs of the surroundings in the city and teach the language based on ‘real life’ situations. The Story telling method is used to encourage newcomers learn more about their new neighborhood and gain new knowledge about the culture and the history of the city. 

Digital Storytelling provides educators with a powerful tool to use in their classrooms. An engaging, multimedia-rich digital story can: 

- serve as a way to retain new information 

- help with the comprehension of difficult material 

- facilitate discussion about the topics presented 

- make abstract or conceptual content more understandable


Normally, the method associated with digital storytelling offers the potential to: 

- promote deep reflection 

- review, analyse and absorb information (e.g. a project, a topic, an experience)

- value emotional / personal input 

- create a sense of experience

- encourage cooperative activity 

- create powerful end products that can have a transformative effect on makers and viewers alike

Type of product

Paper-based material Online resource Video clips / Films Course / Training

Brief description of the outcomes

  • Signs Training program involving new methods that correspond to the target group specifics – refugees and newly arrived newcomers
  • Learning model ‘Feel the city – share the feeling’, that includes various activities: building of project groups locally; selecting places of interest of linguistic and cultural themes; organizing workshops
  • Digital stories of migrants who have already experiences in the integration process
  • Signs in the city books (English/Dutch/Swedish/Icelandic/Danish) containing city signs photography and related survival vocabulary, language and culture guidelines and facts, tips for communication etc. 

Impact on target groups / Transferability potential

Educators/trainers are provided with innovative tools to use in their daily programs for integration of newly arrived migrants. The new learning model fosters respect and understanding for diversity, intercultural competences and values. It provides newcomers with means to communicate with others beyond their own group.

The methods based on signs in the city and storytelling are easily transferable to other languages and cities.

Promoter of the initiative: Hälsinglands utbildningsförbund, Sweden in cooperation with 7 EU partner organisations

Country: Denmark Netherlands Romania Sweden United Kingdom

Languages available: Danish Dutch English Swedish

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