Wednesday, November 25, 2015

EdD Reading: Applying for Citizenship in Scotland.

Getting an overview of the assessment regime [interesting word] for emergent bilingual new Scots. [for notes only, EBs or EBNSs] [text below not proofed]

First, (, Citizenship. 2015). On a page headed “ESOL and Citizenship - Home Office requirements for settlement and naturalisation as a British citizen from 6th April 2015” [nb, the words “settlement” and, particularly “naturalisation” are interesting here. Check legal defiinitions and etymology], we learn that there are two parts to the KoLL test, (Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK): the applicant must pass the Life in the UK test, AND have a level of English, [OR, presumably, Welsh or Scots Gaelic, though they aren’t mentioned here?] at CEFR B1. Tests, (both?) are referred to as SELTs (Secure English Language Tests) and are conducted by Trinity and IELTS SELTS Consortia. From November 2015, (now) only SELTs will be acceptable for settlement and naturalisation. 

There’s a long and technical list of acceptable tests transitionally, (complicated for me, so how must it look to an EB?). But the situation for Scotland is unclear: “The Scottish Government and SQA are seeking urgent clarification from the Home Office as to the details of this change and will issue further updates as soon as possible.” [This is interesting regarding issues surrounding the contradictions and tensions of devolution with regard to language policies]. But the bigger picture is clear, if you want to settle permanently in Scotland/the UK you need to be a B1 and pass the Life in the UK test. 

The SELTs hyperlink takes one to ( Applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests. 2013). This is headed “Guidance: Applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests”, and has a link to a PDF document ( Approved Secure English Language Tests and Test Centres, 2015) which is a list of test centres throughout the UK (administered by Trinity or IELTS) and the world (administered by IELTS only).  

There is a test centre in Glasgow, (The Centrum Building, 38 Queen Street, Glasgow G1 3DX), and advice to “[p]lease refer to the SELT providers website for test availability.”  But it is not clear from this PDF how an EB who wants to (for example) to take the KoLL test(s) would go about that. 

My browser (Safari) was able to follow a URL in a PDF document, so it was a simple matter to to to the address given on  ( Approved Secure English Language Tests and Test Centres, 2015) [NB check out APA system for website citations - Cite This For Me is giving references which don’t look right, and are inconsistent. The Pages app on my macbook seems to dislike them, too, and is auto-correcting despite being told, by me, to stop it.]  

This takes us to, Secure English Language Tests for UK visas (2015). This is clearer than the government sites, and tells us which exam one needs to take for the various visas. For citizenship, for example, it is GESE Grade 5 [any research on validity???]. I tried, and succeeded in a few seconds to get to a position to book an exam in Glasgow in December this year. A clear link takes one to, Prepare for your GESE Grade 5 exam (2015), which has videos and other material to help EBs prepare for the ten minute speaking and listening test. 

However, one learns that Trinity does not administer the Life in the UK test, and we are directed to, Life in the UK Test (2015) which enables one to book a test, and gives a link to, Life in the United Kingdom where one can buy Life in the United Kingdom (2013) for £12.99. 

The test is critiqued by Brooks 2013, need to read. 

NB Can't find Life in the United Kingdom book in library. Need to speak to someone there - (tomorrow AM). 


Brooks, T. The 'Life in the United Kingdom' Citizenship Test: Is it Unfit for Purpose?. SSRN Electronic Journal., Citizenship. (2015). ESOL Scotland - English for Speakers of Other Languages. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from,. (2013). Applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests - Publications - GOV.UK. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from,. (2013). Applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests - Publications - GOV.UK. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from,. (2015). Life in the UK Test - GOV.UK. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from

Life in the United Kingdom: A guide for new residents (3rd ed.). (2013). Norwich: TSO.,. (2015). Trinity College London - Secure English Language Tests for UK visas. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from,. (2015). Trinity College London - Prepare for your GESE Grade 5 exam. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from,. (2015). Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents, 3rd Edition : Book version. Retrieved 25 November 2015, from

Glad Tidings of Comfrey and Spoil

EdD reading this morning, getting to grips with administration of the Life in the UK test, for Scotland. But as today looks like being a small island of not-quite-raining in an otherwise washed out week, I'm getting to the allotment this afternoon. 

I've got to replant the comfrey. I planted it near the Old Greenhouse back in July, 12 plants which I'd got from 2 or 3 tubers from the old allotment near the original Pig Sty Avenue.  I was worried I’d planted them too deeply, but needn’t have. They grew like mad. Sunday, I got a sackful of leaves for next years tomato feed, which I put in a sack in an auld tin bin of water. Then I dug up the plants, each one of them now a massive set of tubers. I threw them onto the spoil heap from the pond. 

I’ve only got one truly cultivatable bit of ground, by the fence in the north east bed, the patch I dug dozens of bricks out from a few weeks ago. It’s more or less at the right level, and well draining. So I’ll put the comfrey in there today. Together with some fruit bushes I’ve got to move, and a rhubarb plant I’ve rescued (from a bucket, under a tarp, at the southern end: it had found a way around the tarp to get to the sunshine, and a plant that determined deserves another chance. According to The Old Man, you should move rhubarb plants every few years anyway). So I’ll put them all in this piece of ground, even if it’s likely just a temporary home, pending resolution of drainage.

And I’ve got a big spoil heap, earth from starting on The Pond excavations. It wants shifting, maybe onto the North West bed, where even the winter field beans are struggling to grow because of poor drainage. Or if that’s too boggy to get the barrow on, then onto the North East bed. In any case, I need to clear the heap because it’s leaning precipitously over the pond excavations. 

If there’s still time after that, I’ll go back to digging out the pond area. Here’s the methodology as it appears after Sunday. The old path I cleared was about 1ft down from the current surface. First, I’m going to clear the whole Old Greenhouse area to that level, about 150ft³ of earth. And then the same again to get to the top of the clay subsoil. All of this will be barrowed and raked onto the N beds to level them - that is, to take the dip out of the middle, and raise the levels about 6in all over - maybe a little more. 

THEN I can start to excavate the actual pond, a gentle curve down to about 3ft in the middle. The spoil will be clay and pebbles. For now, I’m thinking, I need to spread that across the beds too. Clay has plenty of nutrients, and will crumble when it gets dry. So it should, overtime, with plenty of horse-shit, break down nicely into the topsoil. 

Still with me?  Once the pond is there, I can lift the Northern end of the path, and dig a trench along its line. I’ll leave that a couple of weeks, and watch to make sure that the rain is soaking down off the beds, into the trench, and then flowing down into the pond. I might need to adjust the gradient if any water is collecting along the trench. Then I can refill the trench with bricks, well spaced at the foot of the trench to allow the water to continue draining down into the pond. The rest of the trench will be filled with more bricks, (I’m not short of bricks) and then topped with the the paving slabs, about 6-9ins higher than it is now, a little higher than the, by then, raised beds. 

All of which needs to be done before next year’s planting season. Everything else, hedgerow, sheds, poly-tunnel, clearing the midden, must wait for it. I just can’t garden on the waterlogged north end as it is. Draining the southern end, and then all of its other structural changes, must also wait, but will get done during the course of next summer. 

Bulrushes will look really cool around the pond margins, one day, maybe 8ft tall...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

EdD reading - Han et al 2010; or, A Eureka Day of Reading and Thinking

Blimey, I’ve read 1 paper, (Han et al, 2010) and got nearly 1500 words of comment on it. And a eureka moment. A possible research question arises directly from this paper - well two, the first theoretical, the second practical: Should we be obligating new Scots to learn English, and if “yes”, are we going about it efficiently and fairly? Points for further reading and thinking are marked in bold

Han et al 2010 is a qualitative study of interviews of ESOL teachers at a London college, and of a focus group at the same college. In a discussion to the background of citizenship and language it is noted that “immigrants are encouraged, even coerced, into adopting the majority culture at the expense of their own.” This gets to the heart of my current thinking, of L2 speakers as “emergent bilinguals.” I recall teaching one-to-one a middle aged woman from the sub-continent, who had lived on Tyneside for many years and who was at a very simple level in all domains. This leads me to think, what is to prevent (say) an Urdu L1 speaker playing a full role in their own "community", being employed, paying taxes, raising (and maybe teaching) children, and not getting beyond CEFR A2 in English? What would be a reasonable objection to that scenario? (See Clayton 2005, below, for significant objections). 

I lived for a year in Catalonia, socialising with English speakers (L1 and L2, but, frankly, more comfortably with the former), scraping by in Castellano and Catalan. To be sure, my Castellano improved every day, and if I’d stayed, eventually I would have likely become fluent in that language and in Catalan. But I knew other English ex-pats who had lived there for, in some cases, decades, and who stubbornly refused to learn Castellano, never mind Catalan. Many in my (English L1) community regarded this as “ignorant” or “lazy”. But these non-linguists paid their taxes, obeyed the law (moslty), employed other people, including Castellano and Catalan L1s, (as builders, taxi drivers, waiters). This brings us on to the issue, what does it mean to be part of a culture, a country, a nation, a community?  It might be useful to explore the experiences of British ex-pats who are resident in other L1 countries, such as Spain. And in Spanish speakers (for example) in the US. 

So my thesis could be, English as an L2 is all fine and dandy, and we should make provision for teaching and learning for new Scots. But we should remove it from vertical discourse surrounding inclusion, and citizenship. (I could go on to CDA and critically pedagogue the living daylights out of the citizenship test[s]). 

I can draw on subjective experience as an “other”, in Spain, France, Czech, Turkey, Libya, Saudi… Bloody hell. This feels like a reframing of the whole discourse. 

I’m not sure how or why, but the inclusion of Welsh and Scots Gaelic as alternative languages for Citizenship tests seems significant here… [Get numbers on this]. Han et al have it (p65) “the option to use these official languages of Scotland and Wales, clearly included to placate the nationalist parties, is evidence of a confused policy.”  You can almost imagine an absurdist drama on this theme. Abdulrahman from Syria is trying to settle on the Isle of Barra. There is Scottish Government money for Gaelic classes, but not for English. So, he reasons that most of his new neighbours speak Gaelic, and we follow his adventures as he delivers pizzas around the island speaking his new L2, getting to C1 level in a year, to the delight of his fellow Gaelic speakers, but is unable to follow his beloved Manchester United online because he has bare A1 English… 

Han et al also raise the questions, should we be having any language tests at all, and if we do, are the tests of any use in preparing people for citizenship? It reminds me of the Solicitors’ Final Examination in the 1980s, in which candidates were given details about fictional clients, and then (in closed exam conditions) required to draft a will for them. In another paper they were required to draft a property conveyance. These were meaningless tests of the abilities of practitioners, who would have access to many volumes of books of “forms and precedents” to fit almost every circumstance. But candidates knew they were not being fitted for legal practice in these tests, they were being made to jump through hoops, to demonstrate their fitness to join a sub-culture. It would have been only slightly less absurd to give them a test of table manners, or ability to remain awake in court after a good lunch. 

An American friend of mine took a form of his country’s citizenship test online out of interest a few years ago, and was unable to get a multiple choice about the name of a woman whose portrait appeared on dollar coins. He was shocked that I knew the answer - and I knew it simply because one of the options was for someone called Susan or Susanne, as as a feminist supporter in the 1980s, I recalled the hullaballoo which surrounded this portrait going on to coins, and that US feminists had name the coin “a Suzy”. By pure historical and personal chance, I knew a detail of American culture which my Texan friend did not. I need to critically examine the content and format of citizenship tests, and look into any work which has been done regarding their validity.

Han et al note, p72, that EU citizens have no language requirements, they can settle, vote, and have all the benefits of citizenship. It might be constructive to look for research on the lives of EU citizen communities, such as Poles in Glasgow. There is, for example a Polish church in Dennistoun, and Polish sections in large supermarkets such as Tesco. 

The point of government policy here is to ensure non-EU migrants are integrated, but also to demonstrate to an electorate who they perceive as being influenced by right wing media and political parties that they, the government, are “doing something”.

Reference is made to Cantle, 2001, which opines (p9) “Separate educational arrangements, community and voluntary bodies, employment, places of worship, language, social and cultural networks, means that many communities operate on the basis of a series of parallel lives. These lives often do not seem to touch at any point, let alone overlap and promote any meaningful interchanges.”  I recall a lecturer when I was an undergraduate expressing concern that some women, members of communities from the sub-continent, did not interact outside their own homes. He noted that this situation was not being helped by the technology available at that time, because they would stay at home watching VHS Bollywood movies. 

But (think of this as a thought experiment) why is that so bad, per se?  After working on my allotment, I go to a working class pub, and sit quietly relating to people in my community on my iPhone, for example on Twitter. I spend 40 minutes or so in the physical proximity of people with whom I engage politely but at a minimal level. What is wrong with that? Should I put the phone away and join in their discourse? If so, why? Cantle again, p9: “A Muslim of Pakistani origin summed this up: ‘When I leave this meeting with you I will go home and not see another white face until I come back here next week’.”  What is there necessarily wrong with communities operating on the basis of paralell lives? Don't all sub-cultures do that, e.g. the Goth who functions effectively in a call centre all day, but listens to her sub-culture's music in the evenings and spends time with like minded people at weekends?  Or the gay man who works in a gay bookshop and goes to gay pubs in the evenings, and spends his holidays with a group of gay friends? It seems to me oppressive to say “This is problematical, you ought to get more integrated.” 

The subjects of these thought experiments might, (might, indeed) enjoy richer lives if they mixed with other sub-cultures more, but what right does the wider culture have to say to individuals, Thou shalt have a richer life? 

On the other hand, (and although I’m not giving it anywhere like as much room as my devil’s advocacy and thought experiments regarding non-integration, above, I consider it to be an equally important argument), there’s Clayton 2005, who suggests that those who are least educated and most isolated are more liable to suffer abuse and discrimination. 


Cantle, T. (2001). Community cohesion. London: Home Office.

Clayton, P. (2005). Blank slates or hidden treasure? Assessing and building on the experiential learning of migrant and refugee women in European countries. International Journal Of Lifelong Education, 24(3), 227-242. 

Han, C., Starkey, H., & Green, A. (2010). The politics of ESOL (English for speakers of other languages): implications for citizenship and social justice. International Journal Of Lifelong Education, 29(1), 63-76.

Monday, November 23, 2015

EdD - Background reading on ESOL Assessment in Scotland

Search: scotland esol citizenship assessment [library, primo central, 20 peer reviewed, of which 19 fto]

Gately (2015) is a small scale qualitative study of the work of the Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES) cut by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in the UK in 2011. RIES, amongst other things, provided advice to young (18-29) refugees on accessing Further and Higher Education in the UK. Gately gives a useful outline (p28) of the treatment of those seeking asylum in the UK: refugee status is granted to those recognised as refugees, and “humanitarian protection” is granted to those not recognised as refugees who cannot return to a country for humanitarian reasons. Both categories of people get leave to remain in the UK for 5 years, and “Indefinite Leave to Remain” can be applied for thereafter. For those in neither category, “in limited circumstances” there is the possibility of getting leave to remain for up to 3 years.  Both refugee and humanitarian protection status give rights to employment, welfare benefits, health and education. No reference is given for this outline. 

Those with refugee or humanitarian protection status have access to education in the same way as UK citizens, including the provision of funding and fee remission, but the rules for this are complicated, (Doyle and O’Toole 2013, 14).  The lack of research in relation to refugee young people and access to education is noted (p28), together with the difficulties of getting numbers of refugees broken down by age. Information available to young people refugees about access to education may be inaccurate as the situation is complicated, (Doyle and O’Toole 2013, 14).

Baynham and Simpson 2010 with regard to ESOL learners in England, note that the curriculum is based on a word-sentence-text view of language learning, based on Standard English in a monlingual framework, taking no account of multilingual realities. Because most ESOL provision is situated in the FE sector, there are funding imperatives which are assessment based, so that the focus is on students as test takers, (p422-3).  The structure of learning is for emergent bilinguals to keep on moving up a level in the curriculum, with the final goal being a test of Life in the UK, a de facto requirement for UK citizenship.  (Baynham and Simpson reference Bernstein 1999 in connexion with their theoretical framework. Although that title hasn’t come up in my search (above), it seems that it may be helpful to inform my own theoretical understanding, so I’m going off-piste somewhat to finish the day’s reading with it - it has 677 citations in Google Scholar, tomorrow search within them for ESOL). 

Bernstein 1999, ironically, is written in the discourse associated with sociology, with which I’m not completely at home. Essentially, horizontal discourse can be characterised by the adjective common, as in common-sense, common-knowledge. It’s subjective and situated in realm of the day-to-day. This is contrasted with vertical discourse, which is (obviously) top-down, structured knowledge, such as we find in the sciences and humanities. I can see how this framework is useful in sociolinguistic and critical pedagogy contexts. An assessment led pedagogy will necessarily be vertical. A formative pedagogy, seeing the learner as an emergent bilingual, who has as much or more to offer as she needs to be given, is horizontal. 


Baynham, M., & Simpson, J. (2010). Onwards and upwards: space, placement, and liminality in adult ESOL classes. TESOL Quarterly, 44(3), 420-440.

Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), 157-173.

Doyle, L., & O'Toole, G. (2013). A lot to learn: refugees, asylum seekers and post-16 learning.

Gateley, D. (2013). A policy of vulnerability or agency? Refugee young people’s opportunities in accessing further and higher education in the UK. Compare: A Journal Of Comparative And International Education, 45(1), 26-46.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hedgerow in a Colander

In keeping with the new allotment-fundamentalist philosophy - essentially, get what you can for nothing but your own labour - this afternoon on the way home from Riddrie, I gathered a lot of hawthorn berries (from trees on the edge of Alexandra Park, some rose hips (bottom of Onslow Drive), and some other berries I found on the way (edge of someone's plot at the allotments).

I've done this before. Here's a video, (made using the mobile phone technology of 2006) of our Clare collecting the berries. I stratified the seeds and grew a couple of dozen trees. And then I went back to Libya, and we moved house, and I don't know what happened to them. So, anyway, I know what to do, how to stratify them, and seem to remember I got around 50-75% strike rate with the seeds.

Also, the flesh of a hawthorn berry is said to be good for the heart. Essentially, the procedure is to wash the berries, and then chew on them, spitting out the hard inner seed. I'll do this tonight whilst re-watching last week's episode from Season 2 of Fargo. (One does this with a glass of wine or whatever and the telly because, frankly, it could be a tedious process otherwise: the flesh of the berries may be good for your heart and blood pressure, but they don't taste of much). Then you put the seeds, hard wee pips, into some damp compost in a recycled yoghurt pot or what you will, and put that in the fridge for at least a month. They get a kind of mould on them, and I assume that's a fungus involved in breaking down the seeds' hard outer coating. Then you plant them in a seed tray, et seq...

I've got 400 gorse too. Aiming for several hundred plants for the hedgerow, to be put into place about a year from now. Roses, hawthorn, gorse... Others I want, such as silver birch, I might have to buy. And of course the fruit bushes. The net result will be an Extremely Personal Hedgerow. The only foreseeable mushkila is the need to pot on - i.e. to have enough pots - several hundred wee plants between Spring and Autumn next year. I had a brain wave today, maybe put them in tomato grow bags, couple of dozen per bag, so twenty-something bags?

All of which means the hedgerow starts a year later than planned, but needs must. The Pond and the drainage is likely going to take up all my time this winter, anyway, and the levels won't be right for planting a hedge before spring, when of course it's too late for bought-in bare root plants.

Gorse. Hawthorn. Dog roses. In a few years the allotment will be impenetrable to neds, and I can get a bee hive and chickens.

Allotment Survivors

This is an auld wall sign that was being used, apparently, to separate a growing area from the midden. Or something. Anyway, it appeals as something that's probably as old as the allotment itself, (1917) or older.

A good couple of hours work today. First, I got at the comfrey with the scythe, got it into a proper sack, (a batch of 10 I bought on eBay, the other 9 will come in for storing spuds, onions, neeps and what-have-you next autumn). And then I put a stone in the sack, and put the sack into the auld tin dustbin at the end of the path, which is nearly half filled with water, just the rain it collects itself, but with the Glasgow rainfall it'll be full soon enough.

Then I started digging on the East side by The Pond area, which is where I dug out the Camp Coffee sign. I uncovered an old brick path, running E-W, about a foot below the surface, (under where the the comfrey was. I should add, the comfrey, split out of 2 or 3 plants from the old allotment I shared with Dad in Jarrow at the real Pig Sty Avenue, had grown into 12 colossal  root systems since early July).

I was all for digging up this old brick path, and adding the bricks to what I was calling the Frogs Winter Palace but must now just call the brick pile, because it's... well, a massive brick pile, now 10x4x3ft.  But then I thought, hang on, maybe someone laid this, god knows when, back in the 20s or 30s? Let it be. It's going to be right by the pond eventually, and will make a nice place to put a bench or something.

It was good to be getting earth from the Old Greenhouse/Pond area and hoy it on to the E bed, levelling them both. The malleability of an allotment is fascinating to me: you look at beds and they look fixed, but a couple of hours on the end of a spade can shift them, one bed raises by a spit, and the other sinks by the same amount. This afternoon, a beautiful, sunny, early winter afternoon, I learned that it's all do-able, just a couple of hours hard labour two or three times a week. I walked home with a profound sense of peace, stoned on endorphins perhaps.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Hedgerow with Principles

Venus was very bright in the SE sky this morning first thing. And when the sun came up it was a beautiful bright morning as I walked up to the University, all the puddles on the pavements frozen in the first sub-zero temperatures of the year. Good to be alive and breathing the cool air, glad I didn't wait for the bus. Inevitably thinking about the allotment rather than my studies. I need to be realistic about how much I can get done this winter. Maybe 2 or 3 hours at the weekend, and maybe the same during the week. Weather forecasts after the BBC Scotland news are one of the few things on telly that I take a serious interest in.

The Pond and the drainage are going to take months at this rate. So that got me thinking about the hedgerow: I can't really plant it until I get the levels right. Which might be well into the spring, too late for hedge planting. And that led me on to thinking about the rightness buying stuff. I could get 400 hawthorn bare roots for a £200 or thereabouts. Almost instant hedgerow... But it's not really the allotmenteer way... I've got hundreds of gorse seeds. I can get hundreds of hawthorn seeds. I've stratified and grown both plants in the past. Never mind those bare root people, I'm going to grow a hedgerow from seed. Free. It's the principle of the thing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

EdD Formative Submission 2: Search Log and Annotated Bibliography

Section 1 Mind Map

Section 2 Searches

I have had to change the area of my research in the last few days for reasons beyond my control, and perform the searches and draft this submission fairly quickly as a result. Therefore, I limited my searches for now to Google Scholar. However, where search results turned up a book, I would go to the university’s library site to check its availability, (see Reflections).

Below are 6 searches which yielded initial titles relating to policy.  There were too many results in the earliest searches, and I gradually refined the terms to get 66 results on the 6th attempt. On the earlier searches, with many results, I would skim through the first few pages of results, to get a feel for them. 

  1. *"English Language" "Asylum Seekers" Refugees Scotland* [Google Scholar, All, 2,260 results]
  2. *ESL "Asylum Seekers" Refugees Scotland*  [Google Scholar, All, 260 results]
  3. *ESL ESOL "Asylum Seekers" Refugees Scotland* [Google Scholar, All, 64 results]
  4. *ESOL "Asylum Seekers" Refugees Scotland* [Google Scholar, All, 595 results]
  5. *ESOL "Asylum Seekers" Refugees Scotland* [Google Scholar, Since 2011, 215 results]
  6. *ESOL "Asylum Seekers" Refugees Scotland* [Google Scholar, Since 2014, 66 results]

Bonfiglio (2010) was found in a title’s reference section for my earlier, now abandoned, research. 

Subsequent searches, (looking for definitions of “high stakes” and “emergent bilingual”):

  1. "high stakes" def* bachman
  2. "high stakes" assessment testing definition
  3. "emergent bilingual"
  4. emergent bilingual definition

Turner (2009) on washback, (a matter I want to research), popped up coincidentally in search B. 

Section 3 Bibliography

I haven't come to a final title, but it's going to involve an examination of the ESOL assessment of asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland, though I prefer the terms "emergent bilinguals" and "new Scots". References at the end. 5 titles dealing respectively with definitions, policy, theory (x2), and practice.

1 (Partly) Refugee Council (2015)

ESOL, "English for Speakers of Other Languages" is the term I will use to describe the teaching of English as an L2 to people who have an L1 other than English. The same acronym is deployed to mean "English as a Second or Other Language". For the purposes of this research, "ESOL" should be taken, unless otherwise indicated, as a blanket term for this activity and process, and will therefore incorporate all of the other acronyms used, such as EFL, EAP, ESP, BE.
Assessment: Any "high stakes" language testing of an ESOL learner. This includes tests of any of the "four domains", Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening by any means, (face to face or recorded interviews, pen and paper or computer based tests) conducted by a government department, a company recognised as having authority to conduct language assessment  or examination board. The term "high stakes" is used to describe assessment which is liable to have significant consequences for the test taker, regarding immigration status, employment, entry to education or to a profession. 
Asylum Seeker. I rely on Refugee Council's 2015 definition: "someone who has lodged an application for protection on the basis of the Refugee Convention or Article 3 of the ECHR."
Refugee, again per Refugee Council 2015: "[someone] who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…’ (Definition quoted from the 1951 Refugee Convention)”

2 Mulvey (2015) considers the effect of the UK and Scottish Governments' policies on community integration with particular reference to Scotland in light of the two governments overlapping responsibilities. Much of this paper has no direct relevance to my research, but it is helpful in setting the policy background to the questions I have. Mulvey asserts (p355), without a reference, that Scottish policy is to provide funds for asylum seekers who are ESOL learners, and that there is a "nuance" whereby in Scotland the process between newcomers is seen as a "two way process”, in contrast to the rest of the UK where the focus is on "Britishness", but again there is no reference for these assertions. 

3 Bonfiglio (2010) is also somewhat off-topic but important to my research in informing my ideas about the situation of emergent bilinguals (see Garcia 2009) in Scotland, and the danger of their being "othered" by "native speakers". He looks at concepts of "mother" tongue, "native speaker" and arboreal models of language origins, and concludes that they have no validity when we put them against the reality of horizontal language acquisition, for example in creolisation. This echoes what Mulvey says about a two-way process and accords with my own experience of the reality of language learning and teaching; perhaps "two-way process" oversimplifies it - better to say that language acquisition is a complex but largely horizontal process. To summarise where Bonfiglio has taken me, I'm critical of the discourse whereby a new Scot could be regarded as an "other", a problem to be solved by the "natives". 

4 Garcia (2009) discusses the concept of emergent bilinguals as a more appropriate term for those residents of a country who are learning a language, (although she refers specifically to children, and the focus of my study is adults, there is nothing in her thesis which precludes adults being included in the concept). The use of the term rather than English Language Learner (ELL) argues for a change in perspective (not unlike that being urged by Bonfiglio) whereby we consider what the student brings to language learning, rather than seeing them as an object of instruction. It acknowledges that teaching and learning will continue in their L1, as well as informal classroom synthesis of both L1 and L2, and perhaps a third language. It also empowers learners as people who are becoming bilingual. This is relevant to my research as it addresses one of its themes, the power relationship between those who assess language, and those whose language is assessed. NB, a search of "emergent bilingual" on Google Scholar conducted on 20/11/15 yielded 1080 results.

5 Turner (2009) examines the relationship between ESOL provincial high school (high stakes) and classroom assessment practices as a study of the effect of washback. This is relevant to my research because having examined policy, (Mulvey) and theory (Bonfiglio, and Garcia) I want to pin it down to real classroom practice: how does the form that assessment takes impinge upon what is taught and learned? Are teachers simply "teaching to the test"? And this will be tied up with the theory to examine suggestions for improvement of the relationship between ESOL and new Scots. This may be the arena where I collect the qualitative data for my own research, though it will be in Further Education classroom practice in relation to the emergent bilinguals’ high stakes testing. 

Section 4 Reflection

I found it difficult to keep track of my searches. The initial 6 I did were fine, simply refining terms and then skimming through the results to inform my thinking, reading more and more closely as I refined them. The problem came when my thinking was developing as I processed the titles in the results, (through both close and brief reading), I would sometimes get an idea, search, and then get involved in the results, forgetting to note the search terms. One title would lead to another, and another search term, and I would get absorbed and like a child lost in the woods have no idea of my point of departure. However, although I did not always retain a good record of searches made, I would be sure to get a citation for everything that was read. I have referenced below the five titles used in Section 3, above, but also those other titles which informed my thinking as I got to grips with this area, most of which I need to return to for closer reading. 

Another thing that I’ve found difficult is getting to grips with searching for articles (though not books) in the university’s library portal. I think I just need some practice with this. Google Scholar is still my first port of call. 


Bonfiglio, T. (2010). Mother tongues and nations. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Doyle, L., & O’Toole, G. (2013). Refugee Council A lot to learn: refugees, asylum seekers and post-16 learning. Refugee Council, (January).

Garcia, O. (2009). Emergent Bilinguals and TESOL: What's in a Name?. Tesol Quarterly43(2), 322-326.

Hynes, P. (2011). The dispersal and social exclusion of asylum seekers: Between liminality and belonging. Policy Press.

Khan, A. W. (2014). Asylum-seeking migration, identity-building and social cohesion: policy-making vs. social action for cultural recognition. Contemporary Social Science9(3), 285-297.

Mulvey, G., & Council, S. R. (2013). In search of normality: Refugee integration in Scotland. Structure5, 6.

Mulvey, G. (2015). Refugee Integration Policy: The Effects of UK Policy-Making on Refugees in Scotland. Journal of Social Policy44(02), 357-375.

PiÄ™tka-Nykaza, E. (2015). ‘I Want to Do Anything which Is Decent and Relates to My Profession’: Refugee Doctors’ and Teachers’ Strategies of Re-Entering Their Professions in the UK. Journal of Refugee Studies, fev008.,. (2015). Terms and Definitions - Refugees and Asylum - Refugee Council. Retrieved 20 November 2015, from

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) (2015). ESOL and Citizenship in Scotland. [Accessed on 19/11/2015]

Smyth, G. (2015). What languages do you speak? A reflexive account of research with multilingual pupils and teachers. Language and Education, 1-15.

Strang, A., & Quinn, N. (2014). Integration or isolation?: Mapping social connections and well-being amongst refugees in Glasgow.

Strang, A., Baillot, H., & Mignard, E. (2015). Insights into integration pathways: new Scots and the Holisitic Integration Service.

Turner, C. E. (2009). Examining washback in second language education contexts: A high stakes provincial exam and the teacher factor in classroom practice in Quebec secondary schools. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning5(1), 103-123.

Pond and French Drain: A note on methodology

Before getting down to another day of ESOL assessment and asylum seekers in Scotland, a quick post on thoughts regarding the pond and drainage. Firstly, I noticed yesterday that in the middle section of the NW bed, the winter field beans are very sparse, unlike the two ends of the bed. This is the worst drained, and it's probably not coincidental. This would be a disaster if, say, I was growing winter cabbages. Even back in June, I noticed the corresponding area on the NE bed had lower weed growth than the rest of the bed. In other words, I've got an area in the heart of my allotment which is a bog.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: bugger bog gardens. So here's my proposed methodology for getting the drainage functioning:

  • excavate the remaining brick and timber subterranean terracing on either sides of Old Greenhouse;
  • clear topsoil from the Old Greenhouse area, (hereinafter The Pond) by throwing and barrowing it onto the beds;
  • excavate the greenhouse foundations from The Pond;
  • excavate The Pond, 3-4ft deep, 10x20ft in area;
  • puddle the same;
  • lift flags, and dig trench under northern end of path - make sure it's acting like a wee stream, water running off beds into trench, and then down into The Pond;
  • dig trench northern end, ditto;
  • fill both trenches with bricks;
  • relay flags on northern path;
  • construct bridge across pond;
  • bloody hell, voila. 
Lots of work: lots of endorphins released and calories burned. Also, the vast quantities of bricks being unearthed will put to good use, (taking them to the skip in the barrow would be almost as much effort).