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ESOL Provision in the UK and Ireland: Challenges and Opportunities

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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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Foreword (James Simpson)

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James Simpson

Foreword

The themes that run through this interesting and wide-ranging collection will generate a personal response for many working in language education and migration, as they have for me. In London, in 1998, aged 31, I walked into an ESOL class for the first time. In my twenties I had been an EFL teacher, teaching English to adults and children in a range of contexts in the UK, in Europe and in the Middle East. I was, on the face of it, quite experienced, with some understanding of the field. I didn’t think I knew the lot, but I did feel – by the time I encountered ESOL – that I could handle most ELT situations reasonably comfortably. Then I met my students in a beginners ESOL class in South London. These were adult learners, new arrivals in the UK from places like Kosovo and Sri Lanka, and the first thing that struck me was that they could not read or write at all in English. As I got to know them, I realised that many were in fact not literate in any language. Moreover, and more profoundly, they were suffering the effects of the wars and unrest that had interrupted their education and that had prompted them to leave their homeland in the first place. My prior experience and training left me ill-equipped to support their language learning, and their concerns appeared so much broader than simply a need to gain competence in communication in...

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