How can socially-situated practices help adult migrant language learners in Ireland make meaning of their lived experiences and forge stronger English language identities? : a narrative inquiry
Citation:Peter Sheekey, 'How can socially-situated practices help adult migrant language learners in Ireland make meaning of their lived experiences and forge stronger English language identities? : a narrative inquiry', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Centre for Language and Communication Studies, 2015, pp 201, pp 357
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This thesis examines the post-migratory lived language learning and socialization experiences of adult migrant learners of English who are members of an intercultural drop-in centre in Ireland. It proposes the use of learners’ stories as relevant texts for promoting language and literacy learning for border-crossing students. This study draws on the work of scholars in the area of social learning to assemble a model of situated language learning to help adult migrant learners of English build their language skills by sharing their migration stories through social literacy practices. Social learning approaches and the research method of narrative inquiry are combined in this study as an innovative praxis of problem-posing pedagogical theory and collaborative methodology to foster meaning-making of lived experience and the construction of stronger English language identities for border-crossing learners. This thesis proposes that this praxis would benefit teachers and researchers in the field of second or other language learning by providing further insights into the challenges and opportunities presented to these learners while helping them address language conflicts and participate more fully in the host communities which are their new homes. The stories of the lived experiences of members of English literacy groups at the drop-in were collected in two phases over the course of a year using collaborative, problem-posing practices. The second phase included other members of the drop-in centre in a published storytelling project. Finally, follow-up narrative interviews were carried out with thirteen core members of the groups to expand their stories and reflect on their experiences of the whole project. The Introduction to this thesis presents an overview of the theories informing my research and the rationale for this study, which emerged from almost a decade of working with refugee and migrant language learners. Chapter One starts by describing the sociocultural context of this study with regard to migrant integration. It then describes the characteristics and uses of socially-situated approaches to language learning, suggests participation as a metaphor for learning, and proposes a model for situated learning and language identity work in collaborative communities. Chapter Two will outline the nature of narrative inquiry as a research method and describe the relationship and relevance of this approach to the issues facing this cohort of learners. This chapter will describe how narrative inquiry has been shown to help border crossers make meaning of their lived language socialization experiences, and how social learning theories and this research method can combine to help these learners build stronger English language identities. Chapter Three starts by describing the research sites and participants involved in the pilot and final sample of this inquiry. It outlines the research design for this study as a classroom-based social research, explains how learning theory and research method were combined to act as data collection tools and pedagogical instruments, and discusses some ethical considerations for working with marginalized groups. Chapter Four provides a detailed description of the pilot and final research sites and participants, and the application of narrative frames as data collection instruments. It presents the two phases of shared socially-situated storytelling, sharing and collecting, and provides a description of the follow-up narrative interviews. Chapter Five explains the approaches to the transcription of the audio interviews and the methods of coding and analysis of the various forms of handwritten, published and transcribed data using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software. This chapter ends with a description of how the central themes and categories from the data were arrived at using cross-analytical thematic and temporal narrative methods. Chapter Six presents the results of my interpretation of the themes in the lived experiences of these border-crossing learners which emerged from the narrative cross-analysis of the data: (i) Displacement and Resettlement, (ii) Identity Work, (iii) Participation in Social Practices, and (iv) Trajectories and transformations. Chapter Seven presents the conclusions which I draw from my evaluations of these themes. These show that this form of inquiry can reveal the sources and effects of socially-mediated constraints or affordances across time and space, such as identity positioning and gender-mediated access to language learning resources and socialisation opportunities for these learners. Many of these learners seem to use their reflections on their storied experiences to identify and reflect on disruptions and transformations in their social and linguistic trajectories. In their reflections on sharing stories of lived language learning experiences, many learners showed they could draw meanings and identify outcomes for their social and linguistic identity growth and socialisation practices, and the value of participation and identity work as being coeval to learning is verified in many cases. Finally, the implications of situated narrative practices for teaching and researching with migrant learners are discussed.
Author: Sheekey, Peter
Qualification name:Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Publisher:Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Centre for Language and Communication Studies
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Author confirmed that the research participants are anonymised, and the thesis has full ethical approval.
Type of material:thesis
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