Academic journal article Refuge

Literacy, Teens, Refugees, and Soccer

Academic journal article Refuge

Literacy, Teens, Refugees, and Soccer

Article excerpt


This study examined the literacy development of teenage refugee boys in a one-month intensive summer literacy camp. The study intervention sought to abate literacy regression among language minority students in a suburban southern US city by combining physical training and promotion of literacy culture. Students experienced an intensive schedule of athletics and reading/writing workshops. Data were collected regarding student writing, reading proficiency, and dispositions toward literacy practices. Outcomes included increased expressed student enjoyment expressed for both reading and writing, especially for the experience of older students reading to younger peers. In addition, data indicated that summer literacy regression was largely avoided. However, reading proficiency level assessments foreshadow obstacles for students in achieving timely high school graduation. Finally, means used by mainstream teachers of assessing the literacy of refugee students, especially compared to assessments of proficient English-speaking students, are critiqued.


Cette etude examine le developpement de la litteratie de jeunes adolescents refugies lors d'un camp d'ete intensif d'alphabetisation d'une duree d'un mois. L'intervention examinee visait a freiner la regression de la litteratie chez les etudiants de minorites linguistiques d'une banlieue du sud des Etats-Unis, en combinant l'entrainement physique et la promotion de la culture ecrite. Les etudiants ont suivi un horaire intensif d'activites athletiques et d'ateliers de lecture et d'ecriture. Les donnees recueillies se rapportaient a l'ecriture, les competences de lectures, et a la disposition aux pratiques de la litteratie des etudiants. Les resultats incluent l'augmentation du plaisir de la lecture et de l'ecriture exprime par les etudiants, en particulier au sujet de l'experience qu'ont faite les etudiants plus vieux de lire aux plus jeunes. De plus, les donnees indiquent que la regression de litteratie propre aux vacances estivales avait ete evitee. Neanmoins, les evaluations des competences de lecture laisser presager que les etudiants rencontreront des obstacles dans l'obtention de leur diplome d'etudes secondaires dans les temps prevus. Enfin, on y fait la critique des moyens que les enseignants reguliers emploient pour evaluer la litteratie des etudiants refugies, surtout en comparaison avec l'evaluation des etudiants de langue anglaise.


Just outside Atlanta, a summer camp is conducted for adolescent boys who are avid soccer players. However, this is no ordinary camp. It is intended for refugee boys from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, the Karen region of Burma, Kosovo, Liberia, Nepal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan, and has important literacy goals. Many of these young people have experienced the violence of war and separation from parents, relatives, and mentors. Various relief agencies have helped these students and their families find a suburban community in the southern United States, one with a warm climate, some job opportunities, good public transportation, and underused apartments. Camp fees are paid by donors, and teachers are volunteers. The authors, both professionals in English language teaching, were invited to volunteer as instructors and to report to the organization's donors on the boys' literacy development during this summer literacy camp.

The boys belonged to local soccer teams working with the same coach. The purpose of this collective was not only to provide a means for boys to play organized soccer but also to use soccer as a springboard to advance the boys' academic growth and potential. In order to participate, boys followed closely enforced restrictions, including no smoking, no drugs or alcohol, no missed practices, no gang-related activity, and no grade average lower than a C. …

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