Interaction, educational background and identity: Arab women learning English in the UK.

ALZOUEBI, Sundus. (2015). Interaction, educational background and identity: Arab women learning English in the UK. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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In the UK, being unable to communicate in English is a significant barrier to social inclusion. Each ESOL student brings a wealth of cultural experience and diversity to the country, but without sufficient proficiency in English to interact outside the home, migrants, refugees and settled communities struggle to integrate, can feel socially isolated and struggle to find employment. This is even more so for women, many of whom have childcare responsibilities. Arab women form a large proportion of the ESOL population, and often come from diverse backgrounds; some with high-level academic qualifications from their home countries and others who never attended a school. Despite these stark differences, what commonly brings the ESOL class together is a genuine motivation to learn a language that is vital to living a more inclusive life in the UK. Over the past few decades, numerous studies have investigated contrastive linguistics and the transfer errors of Arab students learning English (Scott and Tucker, 1974; Hanania and Gradman, 1977; Altakhaineh, 2010). Recent research, however, has hardly addressed the complex social, cultural and interactional influences on their learning processes. With a focus on ESOL students in South Yorkshire, the present study employs ethnographic methods, including questionnaires, lesson observations and focus groups, with ten female Arab learners of English, to shed light on the role of educational background and identity on perceived language development. The findings reveal an interesting intersection of educational background and self-efficacy beliefs, and highlight the significance of environmental factors on language learning and the potential progress that can arise as a result of well-designed classrooms and interaction patterns. The study concludes with a list of recommendations that can be applied immediately to the language classroom, and draws particular attention to the need for more one-to-one time between student and teacher at the start of courses and regular opportunities to work on practical individual learning plans. This is to facilitate the opportunity for teachers to get to know their learners and ask the necessary questions that will enable them to prepare effective lessons, conduct useful formative assessments and support their students to become more productive learners of English, in turn enabling them to converse more confidently and apply their skills in wider society.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Ridley, Diana
Thesis advisor - Sayers, Dave [0000-0003-1124-7132]
Additional Information: Thesis (M.Phil.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2015.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:18
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:08

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