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Rethinking ‘English as an additional language’: an ethnographic study of young migrants, language and schools.

Sharples, Robert James Edward (2016) Rethinking ‘English as an additional language’: an ethnographic study of young migrants, language and schools. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis is an ethnographic study of adolescent migrants in a South London secondary school. It examines what happens when young people from very different backgrounds encounter the education system in the UK. Very often, they are classified as ‘EAL’ (because they use English as an additional language) and are required to learn the majority language so that they can access the curriculum. I argue that this needs rethinking to take account of the skills, experiences and aspirations of the young people. The thesis is organised into three main parts. The first describes the setting and the broader context, and sets out the methodology that I follow in this study. The second contains the four analytical chapters; the third brings the discussion together, identifying the main findings and discussing the implications for practitioners, schools, policymakers and for the wider debates around migration, language and education. The study develops an innovative theoretical framework that analyses classrooms as spaces of ‘contact’ between young people with very different past experiences. It shows how their migration ‘trajectories’ are a crucial resource as they make sense of the school, and how they draw together resources from other times and places as they do (a process I describe as ‘networking’). The study also shows classrooms to be complex sociolinguistic environments with distinct interactional spaces, allowing the young people great flexibility as they encounter and negotiate the institution and each other. Increasing numbers of young people are moving through the education system in ways that were not foreseen even a few decades ago. Too often, they are defined in terms of linguistic deficiency and their experience of other ways of learning is ignored. This thesis argues for the urgent need to rethink that positioning, and offers an analytical framework to do so.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: English as an Additional Language, Trajectory, Migration, Contact, Multilingualism
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.715039
Depositing User: Robert J E Sharples
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2017 11:26
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17643

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