“I Have Big, Big, BIG Dream!”

Realigning Instruction with the Language-Learning Needs of Adult Syrians with Refugee Experience in Canada

Authors

  • Li-Shih Huang Department of Linguistics, University of Victoria, Canada

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40800

Keywords:

Syrian refugees, adult language learners, language training, needs analysis, resettlement, integration

Abstract

This article reports on a study involving multiple sources of data that captured adult Syrian refugee learners’ unique language-learning needs by developing and implementing needs assessment surveys; conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with the learners and teachers; and analyzing the learners’ oral production. The insights gained from the analysis of direct data (the learners’ oral production) and indirect data (content analysis using NVivo 12 Plus of the learning needs reported by learners and teachers) are intended to inform the work of researchers conducting needs assessment as well as the practices that are applicable within and beyond the Canadian context of instructors and material developers working with English-language learners who are refugees.

References

Annable, K. (2019). Manitoba nurses’ college puts mandatory English tests on hold after pushback from schools. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/nurses-college-english-tests-1.5360212

Basturkmen, H. (2010). Developing courses in English for specific purposes. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230290518

Benseman, J. (2014). Adult refugee learners with limited literacy: Needs and effective responses. Refuge, 30(1), 93–103. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.38606 DOI: https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.38606

Block, D. (2007). Second language identities. Continuum.

Brooks-Lewis, K. (2009). Adult learners’ perceptions of the incorporation of their L1 in foreign language teaching and learning. Applied Linguistics, 30(2), 216–235. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amn051 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amn051

Carman, T. (2016, December 4). B.C. has longest waiting lists for English classes in Canada. Vancouver Sun. http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-has-longest-waiting-lists-for-english-classes-in-canada

Ćatibušić, B., Gallagher, F., & Karazi, S. (2019). Syrian voices: An exploration of the language learning needs and integration supports for adult Syrian refugees in Ireland. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(1), 22–39. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2019.1673957 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2019.1673957

Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. (n.d.). On CLB. https://www.language.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/CLB_NCLC_Overview-of-Competencies.pdf

Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. (n.d.). On PBLA. https://www.language.ca/resourcesexpertise/on-pbla/

Clifford, J., & Reisinger, D. S. (2019). Community-based language learning: A framework for educators. Georgetown University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv7cjw41

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Sage.

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2017). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (3rd ed.). Sage.

Dörnyei, Z., & Taguchi, T. (2009). Questionnaires in second language research: Construction, administration, and processing. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203864739

Dudley-Evans, T., & St. John, M. J. (1998). Developments in English for specific purposes: A multi-disciplinary approach. Cambridge University Press.

Fang, T., Neil, K., Brake, D. R., & Sapeha, H. (2018a). Issues in providing English as a second language training to refugees: Lessons from Newfoundland and Labrador. The Morning Watch: Educational and Social Analysis, 46(1– 2). https://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/mwatch/article/viewFile/2042/1623

Fang, T., Sapeha, H., Neil, K., Jaunty-Aidamenbor, O., Persaud, D., Kocourek, P., & Osmond, T. (2018b). Retention and integration of refugees in NL. Harris Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland. https://www.mun.ca/harriscentre/reports/FANG_ARF_16-17.pdf

Flowerdew, L. (2018). Needs analysis for the second language writing classroom. In D. D. Belcher & A. Hirvela (Eds.), The TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching (pp. 2437–2442). John Wiley. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0523

Ghadi, N., Massing, C., Kikulwe, D., & Giesbrecht, C. J. (2019). Language and identity development among Syrian adult refugees in Canada: A Bourdieusian analysis. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, 14(1), 71–88. https://doi.org/10.20355/jcie29358 DOI: https://doi.org/10.20355/jcie29358

Hall, G., & Cook, G. (2012). Own-language use in language teaching and learning. Language Teaching, 45(3), 271–308. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444812000067 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444812000067

Hall, G., & Cook, G. (2013). Own-language use in ELT: Exploring global practices and attitudes. British Council ELT Research Paper 13-01. British Council.

Houle, R. (2019, February 2). Results from the 2016 census: Syrian refugees who resettled in Canada in 2015 and 2016. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/catalogue/75-006-X201900100001

Housen, A., & Kuiken, F. (2009). Complexity, accuracy, and fluency in second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 30, 461–473. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amp048 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amp048

Huang, L.-S. (2010). Seeing eye to eye? The academic writing needs of graduate and undergraduate students from students’ and instructors’ perspectives. Language Teaching Research, 14(4), 517–539. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168810375372 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168810375372

Huang, L.-S. (2013). Cognitive processes involved in performing the IELTS Speaking Test: Respondents' strategic behaviours in simulated testing and non-testing contexts. IELTS Research Report Series, no. 1. https://www.ielts.org/for-researchers/research-reports/online-series-2013-1

Huang, L.-S. (2018). A call for critical dialogue: EAP assessment from the practitioner’s perspective in Canada. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 35, 70–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2018.07.005 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2018.07.005

Huang, L.-S. (2019). Analysing open-ended questions and semi-structured interviews on language-learning needs of Syrian refugees. Sage Research Methods Datasets. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526483843 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526483843

Huang, L.-S. (2021a, August). Breaking down barrier: A task-based approach to teaching learners with refugee experience. World Congress of Applied Linguistics (AILA 2021), Groningen, the Netherlands.

Huang, L.-S. (2021b). (Mis)use of high-stakes standardized tests for multiple purposes in Canada? A call for an evidence-based approach to language testing and realignment of instruction. In B. Lanteigne, C. Coombe & D. Brown (Eds.), Challenges in language testing around the world: Insights for language test users (pp. 57–66). Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-33-4232-3_6

Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987). English for specific purposes. Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511733031

Hyland, K. (2006). English for academic purposes: An advanced resource book. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203006603

Hyland, K. (2009). Specific purposes programmes. In M. H. Long & C. J. Doughty (Eds.), The handbook of language teaching (pp. 201–217). Wiley Blackwell. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444315783.ch12

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. (2012). Evaluation of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Program. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/reports-statistics/evaluations/language-instruction-newcomers-canada-2010/text-version.html

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. (2017). Evaluation of the Settlement Program. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/reports-statistics/evaluations/settlement-program.html

Ivankova, N. V. (2015). Mixed methods applications in action research: From methods to community action. Sage.

Jackson, Z. (2013). A comparison of Australian and Canadian immigrant language programs: Lessons for Canada in securing better employment outcomes? (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Ottawa.

Jezak, M. (Ed.). (2017). Language is the key: The Canadian Language Benchmarks model. University of Ottawa Press.

Khabra, S. (2017). One year later: The employment experiences of Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Ryerson University.

Kirova, A. (2019). Introduction: Syrian refugees’ encounters with the education system in their initial resettlement in Canada. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, 14(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.20355/jcie29369 DOI: https://doi.org/10.20355/jcie29369

Klingbeil, A. (2016, March 7). Syrian refugees in Calgary face months-long waits for English courses. Calgary Herald. http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/syrian-refugees-in-calgary-face-months-long-waits-for-english-courses

Linder, K., Hipfner-Boucher, K., Yamashita, A., Reigl, C. M., Ramdan, M. A., & Chen, X. (2020). Acculturation through the lens of language: Syrian refugees in Canada and Germany. Applied Psycholinguistics, 41(6), 1351–1374. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0142716420000454 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716420000454

Long, M. (Ed.). (2005). Methodological issues in learner needs analysis. In M. Long (Ed.), Second language needs analysis (pp. 19–76). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667299.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667299.002

Lu, X. (2012). The relationship of lexical richness to the quality of ESL learners’ oral narratives. The Modern Language Journal, 96(2), 190–208. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2011.01232_1.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2011.01232_1.x

MacSwan, J. (2018). Academic Language as standard language ideology: A renewed research agenda for asset-based language education. Language Teaching Research, 24(1), 28–36. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1362168818777540 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168818777540

Madziva, R., & Thondhlana, J. (2017). Provision of quality education in the context of Syrian refugee children in the UK: Opportunities and challenges. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 47(6), 942–961. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2017.1375848 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2017.1375848

Martani, E. (2020, November 2). Rebalancing and improving refugee resettlement in Canada. Policy Options Politiques. https://bit.ly/3ps22tT

Miller, J., Windle, J. A., & Yazdanpanah, L. K. (2014). Planning lessons for refugee-background students: Challenges and strategies. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, 9(1), 38–48. https://doi.org/10.1080/18334105.2014.11082018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/18334105.2014.11082018

Nelson, C., & Appleby, R. (2015). Conflict, militarization, and their after-effects: Key challenges for TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 49(2), 309–332. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.187 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.187

O’Connor, A. (2012). Beyond the four walls: Community-based learning and languages. The Language Learning Journal, 40(3), 307–320. https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2011.585402 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2011.585402

O’Neil, P. (2016, June 3). “We’re not fulfilling our promise to immigrants and refugees”: Support for English classes lacking, MPs told. National Post. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/were-not-fulfilling-our-promise-to-immigrants-and-refugees-federal-support-for-english-classes-lacking-mps-told

Ozdemir, N. O. (2018). Needs analysis. In J. L. Liontas (Ed.), The TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching (pp. 1–6). Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0200 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0200

Paperny, A. (2021, April 28). Canada risks missing annual refugee resettlement target after slow start. Reuters. https://reut.rs/2RhX2f7

Ratkovic, S., Kovacevic, D., Brewer, C. A., Ellis, C., Ahmed, M., & Baptiste-Brady, J. (2017). Supporting refugee students in Canada: Building on what we have learned in the past 20 years. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Read, J. (2000). Assessing vocabulary. Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511732942

Rolfsen, C. (2016, January 7). Syrian refugees in B.C. face long waits for English courses. CBC News, British Columbia. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/syrian-refugees-in-b-c-face-long-waits-for-english-courses-1.3394425

Ros i Solé, C. (2014). The paradoxes of language learning and integration in the European context. In D. Mallows (Ed.), Language issues in migration and integration: Perspectives from teachers and learners (pp. 55–79). British Council.

Sevunts, L. (2019, June 19). Canada resettled more refugees than any other country in 2018, says UN. Radio Canada International. https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2019/06/19/canada-resettled-refugees-2018-unhcr-report/

Shorten, A., & Smith, J. (2017). Mixed methods research: Expanding the evidence base. Evidence-Based Nursing, 20(3), 74–75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/eb-2017-102699 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/eb-2017-102699

Sturm, M., McBride, R., & Edgar, J. (2018), LearnIT2teach: 2016–2017 LINC Program Impact Evaluation Report. New Language Solutions.

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Refugee statistics. https://www.unhcr.ca/in-canada/refugee-statistics/

Waisman, D. S. (2018, May 2). Two years of ups and downs for Syrian refugees who settled in Vancouver. Canada’s National Observer. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/05/02/news/two-years-ups-and-downs-syrian-refugees-who-settled-vancouver

Warriner, D., Fredricks, D. E., & Duran, C. S. (2019). Valuing the resources and experiences of refugee-background learners: A principled approach to teaching and learning academic language. Theory into Practice. https://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2019.1665412 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2019.1665412

Windle J., & Miller, J. (2012). Approaches to teaching low literacy refugee-background students. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35(3), 317–333. https://search.informit.org/toc/l_ajll/35/3

Downloads

Published

2021-11-22

How to Cite

Huang, L.-S. (2021). “I Have Big, Big, BIG Dream!”: Realigning Instruction with the Language-Learning Needs of Adult Syrians with Refugee Experience in Canada. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 37(2), 141–163. https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.40800