Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 35, No 2 (2012)

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STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING SOCIAL CONNECTION THROUGH ENGLISH: CHALLENGES FOR IMMIGRANTS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHING ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE

Kerry Taylor-Leech, Lynda Yates

Abstract


This article draws on ethnographic data from a longitudinal study of newly-arrived immigrants of non English-speaking background in the Australian Adult Migrant English Program to investigate their opportunities for using English and the language learning strategies (LLS) they used to make the most of these opportunities. Analysis of their reports of spoken interactions in and beyond the classroom suggests that many participants had little awareness of the strategies they could use to increase their opportunities to interact with other English speakers. Most participants did not use any LLS and those they did use were largely social in nature and motivation. With a particular focus on social strategies,we consider participants’ use of LLS to improve their English. We identify some constraints on their use of social strategies and some ways in which contextual and individual factors interacted for learners at different levels of proficiency. We conclude with some practical implications for LLS instruction in English language programs for new arrivals. The findings suggest that explicit instruction particularly in social talk and interaction could help learners increase their contact with Englishspeakers. Families and communities could also benefit from information to promote understanding of the communication challenges facing newly arrived immigrants of non English-speaking background.

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