I am a former teacher of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to adults living in the UK, and am currently an ESRC funded PhD student at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol. My research involves exploring language learning, identity and integration for adult migrant language learners in the UK, and includes drawing on ESOL learners’ perspectives of what successful integration might look like for them. People learning ESOL come from a wide variety of countries, as well as from diverse cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds. ESOL classes often reflect this rich diversity of experiences, cultures and languages.
As part of my research, I am investigating tools and methods which can enhance research carried out by an (effectively monolingual) English speaking researcher with ‘non-expert’ speakers of English. Although the use of interpreters is important to enable participants to express themselves in their expert languages, costs involved can be prohibitive, and in addition, using interpreters brings in another layer of representation and interpretation. Therefore I am examining how techniques drawn from participatory pedagogy and research, including visual and practical tools and activities such as mapping, drawing, diagrams and photos, can support and scaffold communication in English for ESOL learner research participants.
My experiences of researching multilingually then, are concerned with working with multilingual participants in a multilingual context – both inside and outside the ESOL classroom.