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An investigation of how English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) is shaped by policy, teachers and learners

Nickson, Martin


Martin Nickson


Duncan Hunter


From 2001, the position of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) changed from a practice of language learning and teaching on the periphery of education, to a position on the centre stage of Government social policy. The positioning of ESOL at centre stage of social policy coincided with an emerging political discourse on migration and migrants that challenged established, if unwritten, approaches to multiculturalism and integration. Accompanying this political discourse, legislation strengthened the role of English as a gate-keeping mechanism of migration through successive interventions in ESOL (Simpson and Cooke 2009). At the same time as this repositioning of ESOL and English, new superdiverse patterns of migration were also emerging, resulting in a greater diversity of socioeconomic background, educational experience and age of migrants settling in the UK (Vertovec, 2009). This thesis investigates the discursive relationships between policy, teaching and learning in the field of ESOL.
Drawing on post-structural methodology this research analyses discourse between the principal agents in the field of ESOL - policy-makers, teachers and learners. The research aims to identify the theories of Practice underpinning the actions of each class groups (of actors), in the field. Because policy, teachers and learners hold different positions of power, the identification of each class group’s Theory of Practice will be investigated through a mixed methods approach including a critical interpretive analysis of UK ESOL policy, qualitative interpretive analysis of interviews, quantitative analysis of demographic data and a concluding analysis that draws on naturalistic ethnographic approaches to building theory. It is hoped that this research will contribute to an understanding of the interactions between policy making, teaching and learning in ESOL.


Nickson, M. An investigation of how English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) is shaped by policy, teachers and learners. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2018
Keywords ESOL, language policy, TESOL, education policy
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