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Perceived and observed benefits of a community based ESOL literacy programme for migrant and former refugee women


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Accessing, and even attending an English language class is often an impossibility for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, particularly for those with young children and for those whose role is very much as a full time mother. Because of this role and in many cases limited English language and literacy skills, these women are often isolated
and dependent on spouses or children to interpret the language and assist with everyday tasks and understanding of the culture of this new country.

A community based ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) literacy programme for migrant and former refugee women was developed in 2006 by Wintec’s School of English (now Centre for Languages), to provide English language and literacy classes that are accessible for women who are in this situation.

This programme is held in a local primary school attended by many of the women’s children with provision for pre-school children to attend the programme alongside their mothers. This has allowed the women to study with other adults while still having their babies and preschool children close enough to feed and feel secure. As well as English language and literacy, the programme provides an opportunity for these women to gain skills to participate more fully in the community where they live.

This study explored the perceived and observed benefits that the programme provided the women who attended it, their families and community. The study also explored areas for further development.

The participants in the study were 18 current and former students, 10 key stakeholders in the community, two family members and the author, as teacher and researcher. The data were collected using several methods: a questionnaire, interviews with the students and stakeholders, and the author’s observations. Most of the interviews with students were conducted with the assistance of a professional interpreter.

Analysis of the data confirmed that the benefits of the programme went beyond gains in English language, literacy, numeracy and learning-to-learn skills. As well as education gains for the women, there were gains for their families and communities, and subsequent effects in terms of participation and inclusion, in addition to emotional and wellbeing gains. The women and their families became more
engaged in education and society which assisted their settlement in Aotearoa/New Zealand and benefitted the wider community.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: family literacy; adult ESOL literacy; low level literacy; intergenerational literacy; literacy and well being; community ESOL; language learning and literacy; little formal education; migrant mothers; refugee settlement; refugee language learning; low educated language learners
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Languages
Depositing User: Celia Hope
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2014 01:21
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 03:17

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