Migration, language learning and Identities

Panel Leader: Frances Giampapa, University of Bristol, UK

Globalization in the 21st century has been marked by social, political, economic and technological transformations. Accelerated transnational mobility and super-diversity (Blommaert 2010; Vertovec 1997) have brought changes to the make-up of urban cities globally. These new realities have created educational opportunities and challenges (Cummins et al 2005; Early 2007; Giampapa 2010).

Drawing from a range of ethnographic and qualitative perspectives, this panel examines the ways in which practitioners, students, and families within these educational contexts (i.e. nursery, primary school and further education (FE) colleges) are working together to address educational needs. These include thinking about the ways in which students’ multilingual identities and experiences become pedagogical rich points.

Paper 1: Pedagogical richpoints: Harnessing the linguistic and cultural resources of EAL communities in schools

Frances Giampapa

Giampapa’s paper explores the ideological positioning and pedagogical choices of practitioners within a Bristol nursery setting. Inspired from a Reggio Emilian approach and located within a highly diversity multicultural and multilingual context, I will show how teachers are making pedagogical choices that foreground EAL students’ and their families’ creativity, linguistic and cultural resources to open up opportunities for learning.

Frances Giampapa is a Senior Lecturer in Education (TESOL/Applied Linguistics) at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. Her work focuses on issues relating to language and identities within multilingual contexts as a result of increased global migration. In particular, using linguistic ethnography, her work raises questions around the reproduction of social inequalities through institutional structures that close down opportunities for migrant communities.

Paper 2: Hearing pupil voices: Using vignettes in linguistic ethnography

 Justine Dakin

Dakin’s paper focuses on newly arrived learners (NA) in the early stages of acquiring English as they enter UK primary schools with multiple identities.

School discourses assign further identities that empower or isolate pupils and their families from forms of symbolic and cultural capital. Drawing on Cummins’ (2001) theory of Collaborative Empowerment, this linguistic ethnography critically examined how a small, Midlands primary school welcomed and inducted NA pupils over the course of an academic year. Critical Discourse Analysis was used to interpret a range of ethnographic data, exploring how pupils negotiated or resisted identities assigned to them through school language policy and classroom practices.

Paper 3: ESOL learners’ views and experiences of language learning, integration and identity

Jill Court

Court’s paper takes us into the realm of adult education where government discourses and policies regarding immigration and integration are out of step with an understanding of the many barriers to learning English, and language proficiency is not the only barrier to integration.

Using participatory methods, this qualitative study explored the views and experiences of adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners in a UK FE college. It addressed the following questions: 1) What do the experiences of ESOL learners reveal about the relationship between learning English and integration? 2) How relevant are the concepts of ‘British’ identity and values to ESOL learners’ experiences? 3) What are ESOL learners’ perceptions of what it means to be integrated? The study found that participants viewed English language acquisition as vital to their integration into UK society, and also to operate in a globalised context. They viewed English as part of a multilingual repertoire of which maintenance of ‘mother tongue’ or expert languages is a vital element. For participants, negative identity positions and anxiety about their English skills could affect their confidence in using English in social interaction, but if they were able to claim positive identity positions these increased self confidence, enabling them to interact in a wider variety of everyday situations.

View the presentation slides on Slideshare

Jill Court is an ESRC funded first year PhD student at the University of Bristol, with 15 years experience of teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to adult migrants in the UK. Her research involves exploring language learning, identity and integration, drawing on ESOL learners’ perspectives of what successful integration might look like for them.