James Simpson

Movement and Loss: Progression in tertiary education for migrant students

This presentation is about progression in Further and Higher Education for migrants to the UK who are users of non-standard varieties of English. The focus is on Tobi, a first generation migrant Nigerian student. Tobi’s story describes the local barriers he must navigate in order to gain access to the courses he wishes to follow, both at the college of Further Education where he is studying, and at the local University to which he wishes to progress. These barriers include mastery of the academic English that he must achieve before he can move on, and the assessments of literacy he must undergo. The contrast is drawn out between Tobi’s aspirations to progress ‘up’ an educational trajectory, and his actual experience of moving ‘downwards’.

I begin by outlining widening participation and the stratification of Higher Education in relation to other processes and structures which impact on Tobi’s experience: migration, social class and capital, language and language ideologies, and academic literacy. Next I contextualise Tobi’s story with a description of his college and his course. I turn then to Tobi’s trajectory, relating this to the tension between his own language use and the variety of English he is expected to orient towards. I end by noting models of academic literacy which might provide a starting point for addressing the pedagogic challenges faced by Tobi and his teachers.


View Simpson slides here

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