Learning to be literate : issues of pedagogy for recently arrived refugee youth in Australia

Woods, Annette (2009) Learning to be literate : issues of pedagogy for recently arrived refugee youth in Australia. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies : An International Journal, 6(1-2), pp. 81-101.

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This paper focuses on issues of access to productive literacy learning as part of socially just schooling for recently arrived refugee youth within Australia. It argues that a sole reliance on traditional ESL pedagogy is failing this vulnerable group of students, who differ significantly from past refugees who have settled in Australia. Many have been ‘placeless’ for some time, are likely to have received at best an interrupted education before arriving in Australia, and may have experienced signification trauma (Christie & Sidhu, 2006; Cottone, 2004; Miller, Mitchell, & Brown, 2005). Australian Government policy has resulted in spacialized settlement, leaving particular schools dealing with a large influx of refugee students who may be attending school for the first time (Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues, 2004; Sidhu & Christie, 2002). While this has implications generally, it has particular consequences for secondary school students attempting to learn English literacy in short periods of time, without basic foundations in either English or print-based literacy in any first language (Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues, 2006). Many of these students leave schools without the most basic early literacy practices, having endured several years of pedagogy pitched well beyond their needs. This paper suggests that schools must take up three key roles: to educate, to provide a site for the development of civic responsibility, and to act as a site for welfare with responsibility.

As a system, our department needs to work out what can we do for 17-18 year olds that are coming into our school system in year 10 without more than 1-2 years of education. I don't think there is a policy about what to do. – (T2-ESL teacher)

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ID Code: 29801
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: literacy, refugees, Australia, pedagogy, schools
DOI: 10.1080/15427580802679468
ISSN: 1542-7587
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE ESL and TESOL) (130204)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Ethnic Education (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Maori and Pacific Peoples) (130307)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Deposited On: 19 Jan 2010 06:01
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:56

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