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Author(s) + contact information
Sherice Nicole Clarke
Adult migrants and English  language learning in museums: understanding the impact on social inclusion
This doctoral study explores the museum as site and   resource for language learning by adult migrants, refugees and asylum   seekers. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision has emerged   over the past decade in museums across the UK and elsewhere within an   increasing emphasis on informal adult learning programs. While there has been   extensive research on second language acquisition, museum learning and social inclusion separately, there have been few studies that have investigated   language learning in the context of museums, and even fewer studies that have   sought to understand the benefits of language learning in museums for this   target group of learners and how it might relate to the concept of inclusion.   The study is centred around an ethnography that addresses these gaps in the   literature and which examined three primary questions: (a) what are the   target learners’ experiences of social inclusion and exclusion   post-migration, and its interface with their English language abilities? (b)   what are learners’ perceptions of the impact of participating in ESOL in   museums in terms of exclusion and inclusion?, and (c) what occurs in   interaction during ESOL in museums? In collaboration with City of Edinburgh   Council Museums and Galleries Service, a cohort of 14 adult ESOL learners   were studied over a 5-month ESOL course held in the City’s Museums and   Galleries. In-depth time-series interviews were conducted with participants   over the 5-month period. Narrative analysis (Labov & Waletzky, 1967;   Riessman, 1993) of interviews examined narrative trajectories within case and   across cases, mapping experiences post migration, in and beyond museums. In   order to investigate the affordances of dialogue in museums, conversational   interaction was observed and recorded during the 11 weekly museum visits.   Conversation analysis (Leinhardt & Knutson, 2004; Markee, 2000) examined   what occurred in talk, focusing on interaction between interlocutors, its function   and content. Drawing on a social theory that conceptualizes language as   symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1977, 1989, 1991) and identities as constructed and reflexive (Block, 2007b; Giddens, 1991; Norton, 2000), analysis indicates   that the experience of migration provoked deficit conceptions of self as   participants negotiated their new social milieu through English language. Access to opportunities to engage in English are mediated both by   institutional forces, e.g. social space afforded in institutional contexts,   and perceptions of self. Analysis of dialogue in museums shows participants positioning themselves and being positioned as ‘knowers’, where primacy was   given to collaborative meaning making about museum displays, objects and   artefacts in conversational interaction. Analyses of interviews indicate   shifts in identity trajectories from deficit to competent views of self   through participation in ESOL in museums. These findings suggest a cumulative   effect of micro-interactions on identities constructed in dialogue and point   to the critical role which learning in museums and other informal   environments can have in terms of providing social space within which to   engage in positive dialogue that both challenges isolation and exclusion and   helps foster increasing confidence and competence in the target language   alongside feelings of inclusion for the majority of participants in the   research.
Key words
language learning ;  identity ; narrative ; museums ; inclusion
Other interesting information
Interest for the project
Contributor´s name + email
Stéphanie Barillé - stephanie@unak.is
Co-funded by The Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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