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Clea Schmidt, Faculty of Education

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1 Clea Schmidt, Faculty of Education
University of Manitoba English as an Additional Language (EAL) Immigrant Youth in Rural Manitoba: Issues of Education and Engagement

2 Manitoba Context Provincial population of 1.2 million
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) has as its annual target 20,000 immigrants Top source countries: the Philippines, Germany, India, China, and Korea Majority of newcomers between the age of 0-24 Settlement outside of urban areas

3 Research Goal: To document the successes and challenges of EAL youth in rural MB Mixed methods approach combining analysis of 3000 student records, plus focus groups and interviews with English as an additional language (EAL) students, parents, and teachers (total of 40 participants)

4 Collaborative Partnership
Hanover School Division Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth Manitoba Education Research Network Research funded by the Prairie Metropolis Centre and MERN

5 Changing Demographics of Hanover SD
Over the past 11 years, the population of EAL learners in HSD has grown from 23 to over 1300 students Now the 6th largest school division in MB and 2nd largest EAL population of all divisions 49 source countries for newcomers to Hanover (60% of newcomers are German-speaking)

6 Some of the main groups of newcomers to HSD include:
German families coming from school systems in which apprenticeship is common and who have been recruited to MB under the PNP as skilled workers; also may seek larger pieces of land on which to raise families Filipino families seeking work Paraguayan families coming from a religious education system that may have ended at Gr. 6

7 Research Questions What successes and challenges are experienced by English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners and families in Hanover School Division (HSD)? How do EAL learners and parents in HSD define success? What are some of their academic, personal, and career goals? What are the experiences of HSD teachers working with EAL learners? How might the experiences of EAL learners, parents, and teachers inform divisional policies and practices?

8 Theoretical Framework
“Educational institutions have traditionally not tolerated the value of subjective differences among student populations. For the sake of securing the reproduction of the “cultural capital” of a society and its normative ideals and models, the institution of education in the West has promoted the vision of a relatively homogeneous community of learners working toward an idea of “academic excellence” narrowly defined according to standardized levels of progress and achievement.” (Trifonas, 2003, p. 2, drawing on Bourdieu and Passeron, 1992)

9 EAL Immigrant Families’ Perspectives
Themes: Initial receptions and supports Challenging the notion of difference as deficit; holding EAL learners to high standards Relationship-building between EAL families and schools

10 I came to school like a blind man, unable to see anything because I had no English. Nobody came to speak with me. -HSD Student

11 I think what really helped was , if you’re in a group of people who speak the same language as you. So if it’s the first day and you’re here and you meet people that have been here for a year and they can talk for you, you can talk to them and they can translate easier. -HSD Student

12 When I visit school, I see the homeroom teacher and other subject teachers as well. I usually ask them if my children have been doing well, then they mostly answer me in such ways that it’s getting better… and he/she needs this or that area a little bit more. Once, something happened. It was a computer teacher…my child used a lot of computer at home, so she knows a lot about computers. But she didn’t express herself in the classroom...thus, the [computer] teacher assumed that she didn’t know much about computers, and told me that he had no idea if my daughter knows computers or not. -HSD Parent

13 [We’ve had] next to no contact other than a school event and an attempt to converse with the teacher who did not understand or try to understand us. A challenge we face as immigrants is wanting to express ourselves clearly but not being able to. This makes us more fearful to attempt communication because we do not want to be misunderstood. We fear we would only be further misunderstood by this teacher and so, though we would like to have more contact with her, we feel she is rather unapproachable. -HSD Parent

14 HSD Teachers’ and Administrators’ Perspectives
Perceptions of the value of vocational education Relationship-building between schools and EAL families Multilingual staff as resource

15 In Germany they have not had the same socioeconomic stratification based on trades that we do in Canada. We look at professions of doctor, lawyer, you know ‘oh, those are really something’, so that’s what you go to university for. Carpenters, bricklayers, ‘yeah whatever, that’s if you’re not really good at anything you can go ahead and do that…that is sort of what our Canadian mentality has been, although interestingly our wages no longer show that. –Teacher, HSD

16 Whereas in Germany that doesn’t exist
Whereas in Germany that doesn’t exist. …So there’s a sense of if you’re training to become a technician you are going to be a top notch technician. If you are going to be a machinist you are going to be the best machinist there is. And they will be. And they take their work very seriously and do it with significant pride and proficiency and efficiency. -Teacher, HSD

17 When I look at this community, I think on the exterior we appear as a fairly welcoming group, but more deep down we’re very reserved and we don’t engage. We’ll be friendly at school, but not speak outside of school. And my sense is a lot of foreigners when they arrive here [have] no family. -HSD Teacher

18 Something that I was very hesitant to do at first and now would be less so is attempt to communicate with parents, even if it’s not really that successful. You know, to make the contact despite my shortcomings in whatever language they’re speaking and theirs in mine and to make the human contact even though language is a barrier. -HSD Teacher

19 These kids are coming here with German as a gift…what can the school do to harness this as a gift, instead of a problem that needs to be suppressed and drowned in English? ‘Cause the kids are going to learn English no matter what. When are we going to start having German classes taught by parents or people who have high levels of German? -HSD Teacher

20 In my early in-servicing, I was very much stressing the need for teachers to be sensitive, to be culturally sensitive to our newcomers and their families. Stressing the point that school systems are culturally created, they are not universal practices or formats or structures. And it would be very unfair to assume that students would automatically know about not running in the hallways or about how to address problems and issues on the playground or about paying attention to the teacher. -HSD Teacher

21 It was almost palpable the shift that was occurring, because they were listening, it was in their language and we were explaining things. And after we did all of that, we rang the bell and we brought the kids in and we all ate together in the gym. And I told all of my staff members and I found out who speaks High German and Low German and I said, ‘one of you per table. I don’t want you wasting this resource, you know?’ ” - School Administrator

22 Action Plan for Ethnocultural Equity (MECY, 2006)
The need to build a more inclusive and representative teacher force was a common theme at virtually every consultation session. While some acknowledged that there were increased numbers of educators of diverse backgrounds working as teachers and in other related roles, most participants expressed the view that teachers and administrators do not reflect the rich diversity of peoples and cultures that are present in our communities.

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