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Attend a weekly programme (3-5 hours) in a second language learning environment

(formal, informal, non-formal) and write a report.

Specifically, attending the class you will use your own observation sheet in order to
record: a) learning/teaching language procedures, b) teacher-students relationship, and
c) relationships between students.

Starting with general information about the educational procedure (place and time of
the lessons, the context, number of students etc.), you will also perform an analysis of
the second language learning needs of this specific group (collect information about
their profile, their educational experiences, their reasons for studying the language,
their expectations from the classes, their educational profile etc.) and examine if they
are taken into consideration during the educational procedure.

It is very important to triangulate your data (in terms of completeness) conducting an

interview with the teacher. Some of the issues that you can discuss in this interview are
the reasons for his/her involvement in the educational procedure, the ways s/he
approaches the specific group, her/his general attitudes towards second language
learning, her/his didactic approaches etc.

Finally, you should describe the educational material used in this class (recognise the
theoretical principles of its design) and comment on its suitability for the specific target
group based on explicit criteria.

For your participation in the class you will need to explain the purposes of your
research to the participants and use a consent form for tutors and students. Your final
essay should not be under 2.800 words and not exceed 3.500 words. You should use the
literature according to the code of research ethics and provide all the sources that you
used to analyse your data.


LRM50: Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition

Giantsidis Ioannis

Hellenic Open University



Our essay focuses on the learning procedure and educational needs of the
refugee adolescents which live in the shelter of unaccompanied young refugees in
Alimos (Kalamaki). The shelter and the educational programme are managed by the
International Non-Governmental Organization Save the Children. Our main purpose is
to examine if the educational programme and the teacher have taken into consideration
the educational needs, characteristics and interests of the students. Our research is
based on observation, interviews and related bibliography. One of the main issues that
should be examined thoroughly is the development of an educational programme
related to the needs of the adolescent refugees.


A lot of research has been made for the education and the characteristics of
unaccompanied teenage refugees. A large part of it focuses on their psychological
condition, their traumatic experiences, the acculturation stress and additionally, to the
role of the state welfare and social services.

On the other hand a lot of Greek teachers face a lot of difficulties in their
effort to adapt the educational needs of the refugees and to identify their special
characteristics. Another important parameter is the lack of an appropriate educational
context and material and many doubts have been raised about the role of NGO and
their educational programmes. One of the questions is also what should be the main
priorities for the refugees, especially the unaccompanied.

Thousands of refugees have been stranded in Greece during their trip from
their countries to Europe after the closing of the borders. According to IOM (2016) the
number of immigrants and refugees in Greece is 62.907 at 30 November and the
majority of these are from Syria where a civil (and not only) war has being taking
place the last years. Other refugees originate mainly from Afghanistan or Iraq where
arm conflicts are usual in the last decades. Almost 35000 live in the camps around
Greece. The IOM analysis (2016) presents that 25% of the people who came to Europe
through the Eastern Mediterranean route are minors.

One of the main problems for the education of immigrants and refugees is that
all these people come from many different countries and have other characteristics,
interests and needs. One of the things that we must also consider is what and how to
teach to these people. Most of the refugees came to Greece after a long journey
because of the wars or the economical disabilities. However, Greece was not supposed
to be the end of their journey. Almost all of them want to resident in another country in
Europe and they feel stuck and trapped. The majority hopes that they will continue
their journey and move to another country, mainly Germany, Switzerland, Great
Britain and Sweden (IOM, 2016)

The purpose of this study is to look into the education that the refugees
receive in Greece and to examine the various learning procedures. Furthermore our aim
is to ascertain whether or not the educational needs of the students have been taken into

consideration. We are also interested in the role and the motivation of the teachers
involvement and to identify the suitability of the educational resources and material.

Our literary research is based on articles, books or and surveys about the
demography of refugees population, the characteristics and needs of refugee students,
the mental health and well-being of unaccompanied minors, the educational
programmes for immigrants, the role of the teacher and the suitability of the
educational material. One of our main internet resources was academia and Google

Key terms: education for immigrants, characteristics and needs of

unaccompanied refugees, teaching curriculum, teachers role.


We gathered a variety of information about the educational programme and

context by conducting an interview from the teacher and asking questions to the
students and the social workers. In doing so, we aimed to learn more about the so
called beneficiaries and their characteristics and needs. Interviews are considered to be
one of the most useful tools in qualitative research. Furthermore we created an
observation sheet and we were present in a weekly programme of three hour long
English language lessons.

Our first step was to ask for permission from the education officer and the
educational manager of the NGO programme. Then we met the teacher and talked
about the purpose and the research method. She agreed and told us that she has no
problem with our presence in the classroom and that in the contrary it would be very
useful for her to discuss about the results later. The next step was to ask questions to
the minors about their educational experiences, their motivations, their aims, interests
and needs. Moreover we requested additional information about our students from the
social workers. We also assured everybody that all information would be anonymous
and confidential and they will be used only for the purpose of the research and for
nothing more.

The teacher of English language is an experienced teacher who has worked in

different educational contexts, such as private schools and tutoring. She is also a
volunteer English teacher in social centers and in the squat city plaza where a lot of
immigrants and refugees live and a lot of activities take place. She has been working in
this shelter for three months now and she has faced a lot of difficulties at the
beginning, like the continuous change of the schedules etc.

The students in the shelter are unaccompanied adolescences from Syria,

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Iraq. Some of them have lost their families and
others have begun the journey without their parents either because it was easier or
because they did not have the money to travel altogether. We observed the lessons of
group 4 which consists of four male students from Afghanistan who are sixteen and
seventeen years old.

The classroom is a narrow room which is inside the shelter and has nothing
more than a whiteboard, a big table and some chairs. There are no posters or other
items decorating the classroom. However, there is Wi-Fi in the building and sometimes
the teacher shows an icon of an unknown word in her mobile phone so as to be
understood by the students. English is the main language of communication.
Sometimes the students speak their mother tongue in order to explain and help each
other. The teacher also has a basic understanding of Farsi.

The lessons start on Monday and end on Friday. The educational context is
informal and there is no obligation for the students to attend the lessons. This
educational program cannot provide them with any kind of certification, but its aim is
to help them with useful for their daily life knowledge. The students are divided into
groups according to their age and their nationality and to their proficiency level and
command of the language. Every group attends two hour long lessons per day. The
weekly program for all groups is 3 hours English, 3 hours Greek and 4 hours science
and mathematics.

The interview with the teacher was held after the lessons in a caf near the
shelter. For the recording I used my mobile phone and I followed the rules for the
transcription. We asked her questions about her motivation, the educational material,
the lesson objectives and students characteristics.

We created an observation sheet in advance in order to be more effective when

we attended the classes and to mark points that interested us. We tried to examine the
learning procedure, the relationship between the students, as well as the relationship
between students and teacher.

Discourse analysis could be a very useful tool in our effort to analyze the data
of this interview. First of all we identified the main themes and examined the way they
are expressed and created chunks of data


The specific group consists of students mainly from Afghanistan. Most of

them came to Greece in March 2015 and they lived in the several camps around
Greece. They were moved to the Alimos Shelter in October. Two students out of the
four went to a public school in their country of origin for about 6 years. The public
school there had exclusively male or exclusively female students. It has now been
about 5 years since they attended any kind of lesson or educational programmes. They
described that the teachers in Afghanistan were kind of severe and strict and there were
punishments such as hitting them with a belt. Even though this is unquestionably not a
good practice, one of the students told us that physical punishment improves the
lessons because the students pay attention and do not quarrel or make fuss. Another
student attended a public school in Afghanistan for seven years and his last day in
school was approximately two and a half years ago. In the public school of Afghanistan
they learned some English, Farsi, Mathematics, Chemistry etc. The last student
attended lessons for three years in a mosque where he was taught to write and he was
studying the Koran. When he first came to Greece he was living in a camp in Chios
where he learned some English by a volunteer English teacher. The students have
stopped school because of economic problems or armed conflicts, but they say that
they liked school and they want to continue their studies.

All the students of this group stated that it is very useful for them to learn the
English language because English is an international language and they can use it
wherever they will relocate or even if they stay here in Greece. The main reason of
their interest lies in communication and integration. They want to be able to understand
and express themselves, meet other people and have a girlfriend. One of them also

requested to attend more hours of English per week, as he feels that three hours is not
enough; he believes that this is a slow procedure and he wants to learn faster and more
intensively. All of the students expressed their will and wish to go to a public school in
order to meet new people and especially girls, as they actually stated.

According to our observation of the learning procedure the teacher was well
prepared and had a lesson plan and objectives, but she was also very flexible. She had
eye contact with the students; spoke clearly and loud, gave examples, sat next to them
and helped them. She used mainly recasts as corrective feedback and tried to have a
student centered lesson, using teaching methods like brainstorm, team-work and open-
ended questions. The textbooks have not arrived yet so they use photocopies from the
book and materials created by her.

As part of the antiracist movement the teacher wanted to work with refugees
in order to have contact with them. It was also challenging for her to teach to
vulnerable social groups because of her diplomas in English literature and human
rights. Her motivation of involvement into this certain occupation is very strong and
being a member of antiracists groups means that she is familiar with the problems that
refugees encounter.

The topic of the lesson was about occupations. The teacher wrote the word
job on the board and asked the students to tell her what ever came in to their mind.
Later she handed them a photocopy with sketches of different occupations and asked
questions like where does a nurse work? etc. The teacher wrote on the board sample
questions and answers related to conversations about occupations and the students
followed the same pattern and made small conversations among them. After explaining
grammatical and structural rules, the teacher divided them in pairs and asked them to
choose a job and explain the reasons, their criteria like fame, money etc. This was
followed by a conversation between the teacher and the students revolving about the
criteria of choosing a profession. Some of the students didnt t attend the lessons at the
second day because they had to go to the doctor. Disruptions like that happen often
because the students have to go to the immigrations office or to doctor etc.

The students of this group have a good relationship between them and two of
them are roommates, though things are different with students from other groups or

ethnicity. The teacher and the students share the same space for eating lunch and they
have a good relationship and talk and laugh also outside of the classroom. Finally
students with a higher level of proficiency in English language help the others.


Being an unaccompanied refugee adolescent means that you might face a lot
of difficulties and problems. Researches have revealed (Derluyn and Broekaert, 2008)
that all these difficulties have impact to their emotional well-being and may cause a
problematic behavior, identity problems in the phase of acculturation and high levels of
stress, anxiety, insecurity and depression. It is not easy to find their new role and
position in the new society and we must seriously take into consideration that Greece,
as we have already mentioned, is not their final destination. These specific needs and
characteristics require a better and more adaptable or complex care system.

Sinclair (2007) reports that education in emergencies can support

psychological healing from traumatic experiences; it can provide a sense of normality
and restore hope. As Dewey argued in 1934 public schools traditionally play a decisive
role in socialization and assimilation of refugees (as quoted in National Center for
Child Traumatic Stress, 2003).

The truth though is that till now very few immigrant children who live in the
camps or shelters attend public school. Only around 1200 children attended public
school at the end of December 2016 (IOM, 2017) .The Greek state is obliged to accept
them in the schools but this apparently will take a long time before it actually happens.
We must not forget to mention that sometimes there are protests against immigrants
attendance to public schools either for healthy issues like vaccinations or clearly for
xenophobic reasons. This unfortunately doesnt happen only in Greece but also in other
places e.g. in Lebanon and Jordan where as Sirin and Rodgers (2015) mention the
native parents complain and sometimes act even violently because they believe that the
presence of Syrian refugees in the schools would compromise the quality of education
or they think that they have contagious diseases etc. These facts make Syrian mothers
express their fears regarding whether it is safe to send their kids to school or not.

Furthermore the teachers in public schools do not have the experience of

education with immigrants and refugees and they do not know their special
characteristics and often misinterpret the students as learning disabled because of their
inability to understand the language as McBrien notes (2005). Another researcher,
Pastoor (2015) refers to the role of counseling and guiding by the teachers because
many of the unaccompanied adolescents need a parent figure. Additionally, he
mentions that the knowledge that should be provided is not only about literacy but it
also includes culture, norms and values. All these could have a positive impact to the
integration and the well-being of the students. Educational curriculums and systems,
and even public education tend to believe that they promote equal education for all and
claim no discrimination by using the same texts and offering the same kind of
education. In a way these neglect the individual characteristics of the students and their
needs. No research has been made in advance and a lot of factors that influence the
learning procedures have not been taken into account, thus promoting inequality.

The educational material that is being used in the lessons that we attended is
English for starters 3, pupils book which is the handbook of English Course in Syrian
Schools. As the author of the book states (Hancock, 2006) it is developed for primary
children with relevant topics. It uses a communicative approach and it does not focus
on forms or grammatical rules. Even though one could say that it matches in a way the
criteria of an analytical approach, we would propose that it is rather difficult to find a
book that is either wholly analytic or wholly synthetic. The department of education in
Canada (2008) reports that the criteria of the selection of learning resources should be
among others: the needs of the students, appropriate for the subject and the age,
activity based, flexible to different learning styles and needs etc. It is clear therefore
that the specific English handbook is not appropriate for the age, interests and needs of
the refugee students.

The evidence seems to indicate that further research must be made on the
educational context of refugees and their needs and characteristics. Besides we must
find out new ways of approach and consider the role of the teacher in circumstances
like that. Ring and West (2015) point out that even though the role of the teacher is
crucial especially in education in emergencies only few studies analyzed their role. The

research on these fields will help the whole improvement of the refugee education and
it will escort to their orderly integration.


Derluyn, I., & Broekaert, E. (2008). Unaccompanied refugee children and

adolescents: The glaring contrast between a legal and a psychological
perspective. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 31, Issue 4, 319330.

Hancock, M. (2006). English for starters 3-pupils book. York press

Hellenic National Committee for Unicef, (2016). The state of the children in
Greece report 2016. Unicef. Retrieved from

International Organization of Migration, (2017). Mixed Migration Flows in the

Mediterranean and Beyond-compilation of available data and information-
reporting period: 1 Dec 201611 Jan 2017. Retrieved from

International Organization of Migration, (2016). Mixed Migration Flows in the

Mediterranean and Beyond-Analysis: flow monitoring surveys-reporting period
January 2016-November 2016. Retrieved from

Long, M. (2014). Second-language acquisition and task-based language

teaching. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

McBrien, J. L. (2005). Educational Needs and Barriers for Refugee Students in

the U.S. Review of Educational Research. 75, No. 3, 329364. Retrieved from

National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, (2003). Review of Child and
Adolescent Refugee Mental Health. Boston, Massachusetts. Retrieved from

Pastoor, L. (2015). The mediational role of schools in supporting psychosocial

transitions among unaccompanied young refugees upon resettlement in
Norway. International Journal of Educational Development, 41, 245254.
Retrieved from

PEI Department of Education (2008). Evaluation and selection of learning

resources. Canada. Retrieved from

Ring, R. H., & West, R. A. (2015). Teacher retention in refugee and emergency
settings: The state of the literature. The International Education Journal:
Comparative Perspectives, 14, No 3, 106-121. Retrieved from

Sinclair, M. (2007). Education in emergencies. Commonwealth Education

Partnerships. Retrieved from

Sirin, R. S., & Rodgers-Sirin, L. (2015). The educational and mental health of
needs of Syrian Refugee Children. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.
Retrieved from

Appendix 1: Interview with the teacher

G: Hello.
E: Hello.
G: Ok. Could you tell me please a little about yourself?
E: Yes. I am a teacher::: in a NGO and we are::: responsible for giving unofficial
education to our students.
G: So, can you tell me your reasons for your involvement in this kind of job?
E: Emmm (.) I am involved in the anti-racist movement, so I wanted to have a contact
with the refugees themselves, so it was mostly my anti-racist involvement in the
movement and it was a good chance for me to combine my masters which was on
Human Rights with my::: undergraduate degree which was English literature.
G: So, what do you think is interesting about::: in your job?
E: That we get to teach a target group which was not::: exposed before, I am meeting
different needs:::, I::: have a different target group and it helps me understand the
refugee condition more and challenge my own teaching::: experience and teaching;::
G: Thank you very much. So, why do you think it is useful for them to learn a second
E: Precisely because they are refugees, they want to go through a journey in::: the
years and months to come, so it is very useful to get exposed to another language as a
second language so it is purely for reasons of integration, of being welcome to new
societies and for cultural::: intermix.
G: And what do you think about refugees?
E: That they are more than welcome, we belong at the same side and it is our moral
duty and our obligation as as societies to welcome them and open up our schools and
hospitals and our neighborhoods to them, so they are more than welcome.
G: Since you are a teacher there, could you tell me please about your pedagogic
principles and your didactic approach?
E: Yes. Precisely because we are teaching refugee kids we should be::: very aware of
their specific needs, we should focus our teaching methods on the students or our class
should be student oriented which means that we should put emphasis on their cultural
background, on their expectations about the future, on the language they want to use,
for example language about their safety, their journey and so on and so forth rather
than focus on::: very traditional curriculum and very traditional methods of learning
which in this context would not work.

G: Thank you very much. And all these are your objectives in your lesson plan?
E: Yes.
G: Thank you. Have you ever had a previous experience working with refugees?
E: Teaching them::: very limited. I was teaching in refugee squats and in solidarity
structures but I didnt have the experience of teaching organized in a refugee camp.
G: And what would you think, what do you think would be useful for them so as to be
developed as students?
E: First of all to receive official education with other kids, which means that they
should not be segregated or receive education in ghettos, so the first thing would be for
them outside the camp, thats the bare minimum and get integrated in multicultural
classrooms with migrant children, with other refugee children, with local children. So
to cut the long story short the best potential for them in order to be developed in terms
of education would be to go in real classrooms with real children and interact as
children at their age.
G: And do you think that the program works? The program that you work, works?
E: There are many difficulties in the field so I couldnt::: say it works, precisely
because of the reasons I was narrating before, so in any case even if the program is
very very successful, education in the camps cannot work
G: Ok. Thank you very very much.
E: Thank you.

Appendix 2: observation form

Observation form

Course: English group: 8 place: kalamaki shelter

1h 2h 3h comments

Criteria of
Teacher has a Well
lesson plan and prepared
uses it
Focus on objectives flexible

Appropriate level of Different

skill and difficulty level of
Student-centered Open-ended

Presentation skills Eye-contact

Use of humor
Sits next to
clearly and
Corrective feedback Recasts

Teacher and No, just

students use photocopies
Teacher identifies yes
and approaches
different kind of

Teacher knows and yes

uses students
Teacher manages Tries to
students behavior motivate
well them
Assists students Yes.
with more
academic needs

Teacher respects Demonstrate

students diversity s
or personal culture understandin
Students trust him yes
an feel safe in the
Students talk to the Teacher
teacher not only in takes part in
the lessons several
with the
Teacher helps yes
children with
problems that have
nothing to do with
the classes
Relation between

bullying no

Differences Not in this

between different group, but
cultural/religion/eth yes inside
nical groups the shelter
Cooperation yes
respect and helpful

Work as a group Yes in a way.

Feel that they have
things in common