In recent years, migratory is a constantly increasing phenomenon and many issues have arisen. This paper is meant to investigate the complex matter of refugee and migrant adults learning a second language and the development of language courses for them. Subsequently, a two-hour lesson designed for a population of refugee and migrant adult students is presented. This lesson was planned taking into account the unique needs of this population and implementing the task-based approach .
Keywords: syllabus, task-based approach, needs analysis
We live in an era that the constantly growth of the phenomenon of migration is a global reality. An ever-changing reality that affects the societies of the host countries. Migration is a multifaceted and complicated phenomenon that is part of society, economy, culture and politics of each host country. The local communities are facing the enormous challenge to manage the reception and hosting, temporary or permanent, of a significant number of migrants and refugees. Apart from the registration of the newcomer, the authorities have to provide immediate accommodation, food, and medical care to these people. A basic and immediate need is also created in the field of education, learning the language of the host country.
According to Esser (2006) there is an undeniable connection between migration, integration and language. Refugees and migrants need to learn the language that is spoken in the host country as its knowledge solves a basic problem, that of communication. Learning the language is indeed seen as a prerequisite for the smooth integration of refugees and migrants into the host country society, and also in accessing education at all levels. It is not the answer to all the problems that they are facing but they realize that it is almost impossible to build a new everyday life without it. It stems from their own need and confirms the importance of language as it concerns every aspect of their everyday and social life. From being able to respond to visit a doctor, find a job, and meet the basic daily needs such as work and shopping.
Language is a needed tool for refugees and migrants in their everyday life and consequently, it becomes of great importance nowadays the planning, development and implementation of adult education courses and syllabus that targeting group of refugees and migrants.
In this paper, I examine the complex issue of adult refugee and migrant language learning. I will firstly review courses syllabus design, task-based learning and needs analysis. Then I will present a lesson designed for a population of adult refugee migrant learners, implementing the task-based approach.
Courses syllabus design
Effective language courses are based on a syllabus tailored to the needs of the learners and utilize the objectives of the educator. The syllabus is the most basic script that describes the route of the teaching process. According to Breen (1984) a syllabus is a plan that comprises what is to be accomplished through the teaching and learning procedure. It provides learners information about the course, what they will learn in the language program, in which order what is to be taught will be taught, and how they will be assessed (Nunan, 1988). It is a guide for teacher and learner as well, of the learning objectives to be attained.
In order to design a course effectively, educators should take into account who their students are, decide what they want them to learn and how they will evaluate student learning, and design activities and materials that will be used during the learning process. However, a syllabus is not only a plan of what teacher has to do during the course. A syllabus denotes the pedagogical beliefs of syllabus designer. Harmer (2000) argues that teachers are not always responsible for the content of the course. Usually, the pertinent decisions are made by education authorities and policy makers.
Until now several approaches have been developed related to the design, structure and implementation of language courses. An effective approach to language teaching that has attracted the attention of a great number of researchers and educators is the task-based language teaching (Prabhu, 1987; Willis, 1996; Ellis, 2003; Nunan, 2004)
Task-based language teaching
TBLT is a pedagogy based on the idea that the most efficient way to teach a language is by involving learners in practical use of the target language through meaningful assignments and real life tasks designed by the teacher that provide them opportunities to speak the language (Willis & Willis, 2012). It actually endorses real use of the second language by learners themselves. Thus, learners are the center of the teaching and learning procedure.
According to Willis (2012) there are three steps for teachers to design a task-based lesson: the pre-task phase, the task cycle, and the language focus. In the pre-task, the teacher presents the subject to the class, activating learners’ prior knowledge, and learners acquire new vocabulary related to the topic. In the task cycle learners use any language they know to do the task and prepare their reports of how they did the task and present it to class. The teacher gives them any help they need with the language. Finally, in the last phase, the language focus, the teacher focus on form by discussing relating words and phrases as well as has the students do practice tasks.
TBLT attempts to fulfill learners’ individual needs and to help them to cultivate functional skills in the second language. Within this context, a task, instead of distinct linguistic forms, serves as a meaningful unit of analysis in courses and syllabus design. According to Long (2015) a task-based course must begins with an analysis of the learners’ language needs. Through a needs analysis, learners’ needs are first identified and used to derive pertinent pedagogical tasks and syllabus content.
There is not a specific type of migrant learner. There are several vital differences among adult migrants learners, such as social, cultural and linguistic, and for this reason educational authorities should not provide them with a specific category of language courses and expect the same learning outcomes related to language from every refugee and migrant learner (Beacco, Krumm and Little,2017). Differentiated language courses and syllabus should be designed with learning objectives and goals that will be right for them and diversified curricula should be developed, suitable for refugees and migrants learners’ different profiles. An analysis of language learners’ needs therefore is required.
Brown (2006) argues that needs analysis is the process that assemble information that the courses designers should make use of in order to develop a curriculum that will fulfill the needs of each learner. Needs analysis should take into consideration that adult migrants learners may have different ethnicities, religions, values and beliefs and speak different native languages. They may also have diverse educational and experiences backgrounds. Educators should take into account all these factors when designing language courses. Thus, they will be able to ensure that courses are appropriately matched to the needs, interests, preferences of the learners.
However, educators when designing language courses should bear in mind that needs analysis is more than the first phase of designing language courses. It is a dynamic and ongoing process (Ronald, 1998). It can be used as a springboard for forthcoming programs based on real facts rather than assumptions. In addition, needs analysis can be used to discover the causes behind the existing difficulties, so that problems can be confronted in subsequent courses’ designing (Cohen, Manion ; Morrison, 2000).
A Thematic Unit
Title: A surprise party
Teaching method: Task-based approach, Team-based approach
Target group: Adult refugee migrant learners learning Greek as a second language
Level: Pre-intermediate (A2) level in Greek language
Time: 2 hours
Learning material: worksheet, blackboard
This is an example of a task-based lesson that aims at the development of speaking and writing skills of adult refugee migrant learners learning Greek as a second language. Students, working in group, will organize a surprise birthday party for a friend. It is a two-hour lesson plan designed for learners, with different countries of origin, culture and background experiences, of pre-intermediated (A2) level in learning Greek. Moreover, this lesson was designed implementing the task-based approach and the team-based approach as well. The main goal of this thematic unit is to raise learners’ cultural awareness and active participation in authentic dialogues. At the end of the course students are expected to be able to use the vocabulary required in this specific communication occasion, engage in short dialogues required for this social occasion, develop the social skills of courtesy and create a birthday card.
The lesson starts when the teacher ask his students to observe the picture of the first task. To help them, teacher makes questions about what kind of celebration this is, how they celebrate their birthday in their countries. Learners have the opportunity to share with their classmates their personal experiences. This activity raises learners’ cultural awareness and activates their prior knowledge. Next, teacher writes on the blackboard words and phrases related to the topic, through brainstorming. It is an important step because learners will need the related vocabulary in the next tasks. Afterwards, learners fill in the worksheet (see appendix).
In task 2, students individually have to write down a list with the things they will need for holding the party, using the vocabulary the teacher has already written on the blackboard. In task 3, learners exchange views about what a greeting card for someone’s birthday and working in groups of 2 create a birthday card.
Subsequently, learners organize a surprise birthday party creating a communicative circumstance (“The surprise party”). In this phase students decides how they will organize the party and how to present it to the classroom. Each of them actively participate in the process. The teacher evaluates students’ oral participation is throughout the duration of the lesson and helps them whenever it is needed. As extensions task we proposed students to narrate their own memorable birthday party.
Nowadays, societies face the challenge to manage the multiple dimensions of the ever-growing phenomenon of migration. The receiving countries specifically, confront the challenge of adult refugee and migrant education. In this paper, we argue that second language teaching should satisfy students’ needs and take into account all the factors the refugee and migrant population differ in. So, it becomes clear that a learners’ needs analysis is a vital stage in course syllabus design and the task based approach is one of the most effective teaching methods.
The designed thematic unit in the appendix incorporates many of the ideas we have presented in this paper. Although, we believe that there is not a perfect syllabus, this example might serve as a representative of the issues discussed in this study. Moreover, it can be implemented not only in an adult refugee migrant learners class but in other formal, non-formal, in-formal contexts.
Adult refugee and migrant language learning is a wide field and many researches have been done and many articles have been written about it. However, we hope that this study will be a stimulus for consideration, further study of the topics we discussed .
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