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Policy formation for adult migrant language education in England: national neglect and its implications

Simpson, James ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2087-7008 and Hunter, Ann-Marie (2023) Policy formation for adult migrant language education in England: national neglect and its implications. Language Policy, 22 (2). pp. 155-178.

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This article is about current policy in the coordination of opportunities for adult migrants in England to learn English. People who move to a different country experience a need to learn the dominant language of their new environment, to support their settlement. A willingness to learn the language is a marker of social inclusion from a political perspective too: an insistence that migrants have an obligation to learn and use the language is a recurrent trope in political and media discourse. In the UK, language education for adult migrants focuses on the area of education known as ESOL, English for Speakers of Other Languages. Beyond the rhetoric, policy support for migrants’ learning of English across the UK is inconsistent: there is neither a UK-wide nor an England-specific strategy in policy to support access to ESOL. Where policy exists, it is formed at a local level in the absence of national direction. The aim of this paper is to consider how an important area of adult education appears to have little presence in national policy, and what the implications of this are, for practice. To achieve this, we first follow the trajectory of ESOL policy in England, considering why—despite attempts to address its coordination—there remains a lacuna. Second, we ask what the implications are of this policy gap for ESOL coordination in practice. Analysis of current policy and of interviews with key ESOL stakeholders suggests an enduring condition of fragmentation and lack of coordination to the detriment of students.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10993-023-09655-6
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7871

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