Please forward this error screen to 64. Georgina Ramsay is methods for non-speaking children Board Member with Northern Settlement Services.
University of Newcastle provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU. The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members. We need to adapt learning styles to suit those whose first language isn’t English. Peter Dutton, the minister for immigration and border protection, made headlines recently after claiming that many refugees are illiterate. Not only is this statement a misleading appropriation of statistics, it fails to address the complex issues of why students — and not just those from refugee backgrounds — may struggle with reading and writing. Educational experience of refugees in Australia We know that the majority of refugees who are resettled in Australia are literate in their own language. In line with these aspirations, many universities have been preparing for increasing enrolments of students from a refugee background.
But do students from a refugee background experience particular challenges when undertaking university study? Barriers to learning It is not just literacy that has impacts on the experiences of students from a refugee background. Different educational systems, cultural and societal values, and general unfamiliarity in the new country of settlement all present challenges. Despite these barriers, refugees are not a specific equity group and are often treated as mainstream students. Their diverse educational experiences and learning styles can consequently be ignored or misunderstood. Research shows that students from non-English-speaking backgrounds learn differently depending on the types and number of languages they speak and are literate in. These students will have learned English predominantly through texts.
This means that their literacy, in terms of reading and writing, is generally more developed than their speaking and listening. This includes refugees born overseas and their children, who often receive the bulk of their education in Australia. Yet they often have less-developed literacies, with strong spoken features evident in their academic writing. Fluency in spoken English for this group of learners can lead to assumptions that ear students are similarly biliterate, but this is rarely the case. So, how can educational institutions recognise and support diverse learning styles, and avoid reproducing assumptions about the educational history of students from refugee backgrounds?