- Hagem_Birgit.pdf (1023k)
Høgskolen i Oslo. Avdeling for lærerutdanning og internasjonale studier
Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning
The focus and topic for this master thesis is aimed at exploring the challenges that adults who enter Norway as illiterates, meet when learning to read and write in a second language. The project also sets out to examine several official documents which focus on targets and aims for reading and writing abilities in Norway. The concept of “lifelong learning” is also explored in these documents. The project involved 14 women who have been interviewed about their experiences and challenges. The project discusses the links between official documents and the actual learning possibilities adults have when learning to read and write in Norwegian when knowledge of the language is at starting point. Official documents seem to aim high and promise “life long learning”, however most learning projects are work related and do not reach all adults. The project discusses new research which shows that an oral basis for the language is needed before actual literacy education can take place. The project also tries to argue for mother tongue instruction combined with literacy instruction because the women who have taken part in this project maintain that learning to read and write was a struggle which lasted from 2-4 years. The project also explores the multitude of social practices where literacy is used regardless of level of literacy competence. Norwegian authorities on the one hand set high standards for reading and writing among adults and seem to follow the trends from international surveys, IALS and ALL. On the other hand official documents and teaching plans show low expectations for adults who learn to read and write in a second language. Even if the right to attend primary and secondary school has by law become available to these adults, few adults seem to use this right and opportunity to learn basic subjects offered to continue to study or qualify themselves as skilled workers. This might have to do with lack of information available and lack of specific support when ex. g. writing tasks in Norwegian is needed in these courses. This project also explores how these adults may have different learning strategies than adults who have learnt to read and write early in life. Findings suggest that it would be an advantage to use their own learning strategies when courses to read and write in a second language are administered. The project shows that most of these adults get into the job market sooner or later in life, depending on caring tasks that they have for their families and different health problems that they experience. In this project it will be argued that the low expectations set out by the Norwegian government are not beneficial to this group and need to be readjusted to meet the needs and challenges of this group.
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