Shedding light on refugee learning | ELPNZ

Shedding light on refugee learning

16 September 2012

Imagine you’ve never held a pen. Now couple this with learning to read and write in what is your new language.

Refugees with little or no literacy in their own language face enormous challenges in learning English. Their needs are often complex and require specialist resources and teaching approaches.Joris de Bres and Grant Robertson

Adult refugee learners with limited literacy: needs and effective responses aims to help teachers working with this special group of adult learners.

Researcher Dr John Benseman interviewed 36 learners from 10 countries attending English Language Partners’ ESOL-Literacy programme. The programme’s teachers and bilingual assistants also participated.

When interviewed, learners expressed a strong desire to achieve personal independence.
One learner, when asked what he wanted to achieve, said he hoped to volunteer in his community, “So I can repay New Zealand”.

The research identifies key strategies for teachers to help learners achieve their goals. “They provide an excellent guide, but not just for teachers,” said Nicola Sutton, English Language Partners’ Chief Executive. “Being aware of how previous trauma can affect performance in the classroom, workplace or wider community is helpful to anyone working with refugees.”

Grant Robertson, Labour spokesperson, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, spoke at the Adult Learners’ Week launch, with Joris de Bres, Race Relations Commissioner, carrying out ribbon-cutting duties to formally launch the resource.

The 7 September occasion was also an opportunity for English Language Partners to farewell Joris de Bres, who is in his final year as Race Relations Commissioner.

The research project was developed by English Language Partners with funding assistance from Ako Aotearoa. The full research is available here.

Dorothy Thwaite, ELPNZ and David Do, TECRhonda Lin and Gurbrinder Aulakh, ELPNZ Board membersMarty Pilott, ETC and Nhy Huntingdon, Ako AotearoaAsad Abdullahi, MoE, Dr Gillian Skyrme, Massey Uni and Samson Sahili, Refugees as Survivors Wellington