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ESOL Provision in the UK and Ireland: Challenges and Opportunities


Edited By Freda Mishan

Situated within the context of unprecedented levels of inward migration to the UK and Ireland bringing with it all the complexities of integration, this volume focuses on a key aspect of this - language provision. Through the voices of stakeholders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL), this volume critically examines models of language provision and integration, the relationship between language and identity, developing ESOL practices and ESOL policy. A distinctive feature is the diversity of contributions, ranging from research studies to vignettes presenting living portraits of ESOL practice on the ground. The volume fills an urgent gap in this area, offering a snapshot of the ‘state of the art’ of ESOL in the UK and Ireland and projections of how the needs of new migrants can be addressed into the future.

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Case study 3. Are we failing ESOL literacy students by not taking account of SLA research in our approaches to teaching them? (Ann Cowie)


Ann Cowie

Case study 3Are we failing ESOL literacy students by not taking account of SLA research in our approaches to teaching them?


There has been little research into second language acquisition (SLA) in learners with limited literacy in any language (LESLLA learners) but a small number of studies have suggested that lack of alphabetic literacy leads to differences in the way some grammatical items are processed. This case study examines how a LESLLA learner struggles to notice morphemes that mark past tense, questions and plurals, with the learner focusing largely on meaning rather than form. The data is gathered through an interview, a discrimination task and an elicited imitation task and largely confirms previous findings. It is argued that LESLLA learners, as well as needing an opportunity to develop their literacy skills, require specialist teaching approaches that take account of what we know about how they learn. This is difficult to achieve within a general ESOL class, and an online survey discussed in the last section of the chapter suggests that specialist provision is now being reduced as a result of funding changes.

Background to SLA and LESLLA research

It is generally agreed that learners with little previous education and limited or no literacy in their first language (LESLLA learners) have particular needs when it comes to learning English, and some institutions provide specialist ESOL literacy classes to cater for them. However it seems that this group of...

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