Supporting Refugee Families in Scotland Through an Ecological, Multilingual Approach to Language Learning

Cox, Sarah (2022). Supporting Refugee Families in Scotland Through an Ecological, Multilingual Approach to Language Learning. In: Levine, Glenn S. and Mallows, David eds. Language Learning of Adult Migrants in Europe: Theoretical, Empirical, and Pedagogical Issues. Educational Linguistics, 53. Springer, pp. 197–218.



In this chapter I seek to challenge monolingual teaching methods by proposing an ecological and multilingual ESOL pedagogy through the presentation of findings from an exploratory study with recently arrived adult refugees in Scotland. Using Critical Participatory Action Research and underpinned by decolonising methodology (Phipps A. Decolonising multilingualism: struggles to decreate. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, 2019b; Smith LT. Decolonising methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Limited, London, 1999), the research enables the examination of the gap between research, policy, and practice in the Scottish context. The research findings illustrate the benefits of harnessing a multilingual and ecological approach in a purposeful, strategic way and build on principles of translanguaging with individuals using their full “linguistic repertoire” (García O, Kleifgen JA. Educating emergent bilinguals: policies, programs, and practices for English language learners. Teachers College Press, New York, 2010). The study challenges imbalances within language learning both at an individual level in terms of learner/teacher relationships, and at societal level by addressing linguistic hierarchies and the dominance of English inside and outside the classroom. I draw conclusions about empowerment, language and identity for forcibly displaced persons undergoing periods of profound change, and the positive impact of the recognition of refugees’ own languages, highlighting the need to challenge restrictive language learning policies and practices.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions