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Approaching language learning with adult L2 writers with emergent literacy


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New Zealand is welcoming 500 more former quota refugees in 2020, many of whom are adults with minimal or interrupted formal education. Ten years ago, Tarone, Bigelow and Hansen (2009) informed practitioners that “researchers have not singled out for study L2 learners who are illiterate or have low literacy levels.” In 2017, a 2-year enquiry was begun which asked former adult refugees to relate some of their experiences learning English, what helped and what hindered and to think of strategies that had worked for them.
The collaborative study between two large organisations consisted of 60 adult former refugee participants with 0-2 years of prior learning who had lived in New Zealand for less than five years. Data was collected using pre and post interviews with first language interpreters, and two 6-week classroom observations.
The results confirmed that first language assistance helped to bridge the gap initially, that learners’ rich and long traditions assist their learning, as do use of digital technologies. Learners assets include aural awareness, oracy and abilities with memory which they can use as tools for learning. The key constraints to learning were health concerns and stresses associated with dislocation. Although these impacted on attendance participants sometimes attended class in spite of these difficulties, suggesting perhaps the classroom was meeting well-being as well as learning needs.
As learners with little prior former education present in adult classrooms teachers may become aware of the strengths and assets they bring with them. A flexible interactive curriculum based on enquiry and negotiation can, given time, draw learners into the first steps of L2 literacy and become a rewarding experience for both learners and teachers.

Item Type: Item presented at a conference, workshop or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: ESOL
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P 95 Oral communication. Speech
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Languages
Depositing User: Dawn Carlisle
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2021 04:38
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 09:16

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