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Refugee policy and language learning in Pittsburgh, PA

Hatfield, Daniel J. (2013) Refugee policy and language learning in Pittsburgh, PA. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Nearly three million refugees have been resettled in the United States since 1975. As a population, they are subject to a number of impediments unique amongst English-language learners and under constant pressure to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Language learning is a crucial component of their successful adaptation to their new home. This thesis will show that no single, comprehensive language policy on refugee language-learning in the United States exists. Instead, policy is administered and shaped by a variety of institutions and policy makers at many different levels. Recognizing how refugees' lives are impacted by this spectrum of influences is critical to our understanding of their role as language-learners. Using government documents and ethnographic methods (e.g., Duff (2002) and Shohamy (2006)), this thesis will describe the United States' language policy jigsaw by looking at its manifestations at the federal, state, and local levels. The first part of this investigation involves an analysis of the refugee-related legislation and associated documents that constitute the superstructure of this ad-hoc policy. The second half takes a look at the consequences of this framework via an ethnographic case study of the refugees, social services providers and educators who serve them in Pittsburgh, PA. The ethnography is based primarily upon interviews and correspondence with 15 people: 5 with resettlement agencies (including religious and secular), 6 with NGOs (including a family support center and a literacy program provider), 2 with schools (one urban and one suburban) and 2 with refugees (Somali Bantu and Nepali-Bhutanese). We conclude that current resources are inadequately addressing refugees’ language-learning needs in large part due to U.S. refugee policy’s roots in foreign policy, USRAP’s focus on self-sufficiency through employment, and the manner in which political power shapes policy.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hatfield, Daniel
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Committee MemberMcCormick, Dawn E.mccormic@pitt.eduMCCORMIC
Committee MemberKiesling, Scott F.Kiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Thesis AdvisorJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Date: 17 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 November 2012
Approval Date: 17 January 2013
Submission Date: 4 December 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 138
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: language policy, refugees, pittsburgh, language learning, refugee resettlement
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2013 21:29
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:07


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