Religion, identity and investment in adult migrants’ English language learning in the UK

Amina Al Dhaif, Graham Hall, Rola Naeb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


In this chapter, we report on the experiences of learning English and identity negotiation of 14 Syrian adult Muslim refugees, both male and female and a variety of ages, recently arrived in the UK and enrolled at an ESOL college. Drawing on a range of data sources, we explore how the Syrian informants’ religious identities acted both as a motivational factor and/or a hindrance for their investment and take-up of learning opportunities, both within and beyond the ESOL classroom. We also consider the implications of the 2017 Manchester and London terrorist attacks for the Syrians’ sense of self and the restrictive implications for their English language learning. We argue that language teachers and practitioners who are critically informed about religion and religious identity can utilise the classroom not only as a space for language learning itself, but also as a site for learners to take up identities which they perceive to be more powerful and desirable, to voice their concerns and vulnerability, feel more accepted by host communities, and, consequently, to develop their investment in language learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Learning of Migrants in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical, Empirical, Policy, and Pedagogical Issues
EditorsDavid Mallows, Glenn S. Levine
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783030792374
ISBN (Print)9783030792367, 9783030792398
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2022

Publication series

NameEducational Linguistics
ISSN (Print)1572-0292
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1656


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