Investigating Tasks and Teaching Methods for Adult Somali Refugees at a London Esol Centre

Charlotte Anyango Ong’anga, Ajowi Jack Odongo


The influx of Somali refugees in the United Kingdom (UK) renders the country as the biggest host to one of the largest and longest established Somali communities in Europe. The fact that the refugees arrive in the UK with little or no previous knowledge of the English language, has made the investigation of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) literacy instructional techniques and methods a priority within the ESOL professional field. It is hoped that the free provision of English language programs to Somali adult refugees leads to improved settlement outcomes, however, it is argued that the delivery and instructional techniques may not always be sufficient to ensure effective and efficient integration, economic and social self-sufficiency or, indeed, to a feeling of ‘belonging’ in the host community. This study investigates the teaching methods and tasks used to teach refugees English at the X ESOL Learning Centre in London. It focused specifically on the Somali refugees. The objectives of the study are to determine the suitability of the tasks used to teach ESOL, the attitude of the learners towards the tasks and finally to make some recommendations. Two methods were used to achieve these objectives. An experiment was carried out where one half of the beginners class was exposed to a new teaching method and tasks while the other half carried on with the usual methods and tasks. The experiment lasted for fifteen weeks and tests were given before, during and after the teaching period. Questionnaires, interview and observation schedules were used to collect data on the attitudes of the learners towards the tasks. The results were that the test group learners performed way above the control group learners at the end of the experiment showing that the new methods introduced were superior to the usual methods at the Centre. Also the learners were far happier with their new tasks and they preferred them to the usual ones. Independent observers also noted that the learners were much happier and learnt better with the new tasks. The study therefore recommends that the new methods should be adopted for teaching English to the Somali refugees.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n3p25

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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