WP234 ‘Our Languages’: Sociolinguistics in multilingual participatory ESOL classes

Cooke, Bryers & Winstanley


Speakers of languages other than English in the UK frequently face barriers to their integration and wellbeing, not because they do not speak the language or are reluctant to learn it (a commonly repeated trope in political and public discourse) but because of hostility to their other languages and because of strongly held ? but often erroneous ? beliefs about bi/multilingualism both on an individual and a societal level. Yet ESOL programmes rarely explicitly address the language issues which are salient in the lives of linguistic minorities, and their voices are rarely heard on such matters. Drawing on findings from the Diasporic Adult Language Socialisation Project (DALS), an ongoing sociolinguistic investigation into the development of multilingual communicative repertoires in the homes and communities of Sri Lankan Tamils in London, Our Languages set out to explore the potential for incorporating sociolinguistic topics into ESOL and to establish a pedagogical approach which was more in tune with students’ linguistic realities and those of their local communities.