Title:Skolan i livet - livet i skolan: Några illitterata invandrarkvinnor lär sig tala, läsa och skriva på svenska som andraspråk
Publication type:Doctoral thesis
Keywords:socio-cultural theory, cultural communities, immigrant, Swedish as a second language, written language, literacy, gender, adults, learning process, teaching, collaborative discussion, interaction, interpreter Defence: 2005-05-14, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Many immigrants in Sweden have not had the chance to learn to read and write, for various reasons. In Sweden, literacy is a prerequisite to being able to function in the cultural community, and for many immigrants this is the first time that they experience their inability to read and write as a handicap or see themselves as "illiterate". The aim of this study is to use a socio-cultural, second language and gender approach to describe, analyse and understand how a number of adult, illiterate, immigrant women experience their situation when they are expected to simultaneously learn to speak, read and write Swedish. The study focuses on two literacy groups in two Swedish municipalities. In one of the groups I act as both teacher and researcher. The thesis is a case study of the learning process of five illiterate immigrant women in Sweden. The results are based on interviews, carried out with the help of an interpreter, and observation of teaching and texts ritten by the students. The study is based on the assumption that human learning is an activity that takes place in a cultural community in a social context. When learning a language, the language is simultaneously the tool that facilitates social communication and the object of the learning process. The study shows that cultural communities influence the women in different ways. Gender structures are firmly planted in a patriarchal value system, which means that women are seen as inferior to men, and women are expected to "meet the demands of others". The women have no time to study at home, as their household duties are prioritised. However, there are subtle indications that there is a wish to change the situation in accordance with Swedish values and norms. This can be seen in the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) lessons. As they have little contact with Swedes, school is the only arena in which they have a chance to use Swedish. They are positive towards teaching and school as an institution. Here they are able to develop an alternative identity. The study also shows that teaching in the literacy groups is to a great extent based on a technical approach, in which the teacher tries to elicit a correct answer from the students. Social interaction involving contemplation and negotiation is either not included or not prioritised. the women’s experience and knowledge is not made use of. There are,however, occasions when collaborative discussions take place between the teacher and students. On these occasions an exchange of experiences takes place. Learning is based on the students’ own experiences and thoughts. Linguistic concepts gain meaning in the collaborative discussion. Initially the concepts may be unclear, but the group works on them together, adapting and adjusting them until they finally make sense. Finally, I conclude that women immigrants bring their own socio-cultural values and experience to the school situation, which affects their learning process to varying degrees. Furthermore, immigrant women need more time at school, as it is the only arena in which they can spend time on studying and personal development. another conclusion is that the school must become a learning community that recognises the immigrants’ cultures, makes use of the students’ experience and allows the students to participate in collaborative discussions, so that they can develop their ability to speak, read and write Swedish.