ESOL learners’ views and experiences of language learning, integration and identity: Panel Presentation

Jill Court

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper


In the UK, government discourses and policies regarding immigration and integration are out of step with an understanding of the many barriers to learning English, and language proficiency is not the only barrier to integration.

Using participatory methods, this qualitative study explored the views and experiences of adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners in a UK FE college. It addressed the following questions: 1) What do the experiences of ESOL learners reveal about the relationship between learning English and integration? 2) How relevant are the concepts of ‘British’ identity and values to ESOL learners’ experiences? 3) What are ESOL learners’ perceptions of what it means to be integrated? The study found that participants viewed English language acquisition as vital to their integration into UK society, and also to operate in a globalised context. They viewed English as part of a multilingual repertoire of which maintenance of ‘mother tongue’ or expert languages is a vital element. For participants, negative identity positions and anxiety about their English skills could affect their confidence in using English in social interaction, but if they were able to claim positive identity positions these increased self confidence, enabling them to interact in a wider variety of everyday situations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
EventEducation and Migration: Language Foregrounded: Researching multilingually at the borders of language, the body, the law and the state. - School of Education, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Oct 201623 Oct 2016


ConferenceEducation and Migration: Language Foregrounded
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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