‘For Them it's Sink or Swim’: Refugee Students and the Dynamics of Migration, and (Dis)Placement in School

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Abstract

This article focuses on qualitative research conducted with a group of refugee high school students from the Vietnamese Central Highlands living in the south-eastern region of the United States. As students with limited and/or interrupted formal education, they face linguistic, academic, and social challenges that confound their expectations for success in and beyond school. Analyzed through Bourdieu's theory of field (1977), the research shows that in spite of the students associating school with long-range aspirations, certain normative school structures and interactions prove detrimental to their language learning, their self-esteem and their motivation to succeed. The experiences of this group shed light on the education of newcomer high school refugee youth, building critical understanding for regions with growing linguistic and ethnic diversity. Possibilities for integrative linguistic and academic support for refugees with limited and/or interrupted formal education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalPower and Education
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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