EVERYDAY LANGUAGE PRACTICES OF REFUGEE BACKGROUND YOUTH IN NEW ZEALAND

Author:

SeungHee Cindy Pak

Publication Date:

2019

PDF:

This article reports on findings from an ethnographic study with six young refugee background learners from Syria resettling in New Zealand. The focus is on their everyday language practices and making sense of what they do in relation to learning English, and why they do it. Bourdieu’s (1991) theory of practice is the main theoretical lens used to focus on how learners reposition themselves and are positioned (habitus) within their local school, New Zealand society and transnational online world (field) as well as the importance of different resources (capital) in their language practices. Photo-voice was utilised as a key method to elicit participants’ voices as well as to capture their everyday language practices. There are three main findings that relate to language learning that emerge: 1) the role of ‘doxa’, 2) the field that includes the social structure, particularly the gendered norms and expectations, and 3) the role of capital and more “durable” social position that influence participants’ language learning and resettlement experiences. I conclude by noting how the narratives and photo images from participants illustrate the complexity involved in language learning and learners’ motivation/investment and signal the importance of individual narratives to understand language learning alongside wider social processes.