20 SES 06 B, Intercultural Learning, Identity and Citizenship
This paper will discuss Filipino students’ attitudes and experiences of schooling and social participation in Iceland. This is an ongoing study of immigrant students’ views towards their studies, home and second language use, and participation in Icelandic society. Semi-structured interviews were taken with seven immigrant students of Filipino background in four secondary schools to explore what factors may contribute to their social and academic success or difficulties. In addition, interviews were taken with two Filipino students who had begun, but not completed, secondary school education to explore their reasons for their early departure from secondary school.
International data, including PISA results, show that immigrants in Iceland are less academically successful than native Icelandic students, whereas in other Nordic countries such variance is not as pronounced. Statistics also show that almost 60% of young adult immigrants do not attend secondary school or drop out before finishing their studies. This percentage is twice that of Icelandic students of the same age. Possible explanations for this difference in educational participation could be language-related. Research by Cummins and others has shown that mother tongue development is a key to academic success (e.g. Ball, 2010; Cummins, 2001). Cummins also points out that Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), or “academic language proficiency” in the language of instruction, is an important skill for ongoing success in school and may take up to 10 years to develop (2005). A number of additional factors, notwithstanding various shortcomings of the school, could also play a part in students’ academic and social successes and failures such as personal motivation, peer and family pressures and support, financial factors or employment opportunities. The purpose of this study was to investigate these factors from the students’ perspective.
The study is linked to a larger research network of participants from the Nordic countries, the UK and Canada (NordForsk Researcher Network). It is part of a research project being carried out in Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden and is supported with funding from NordForsk, the Icelandic Ministry of Welfare and the University of Iceland Research Fund.
Ball, J. (2010). Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years. Paris: UNESCO. Cummins, J. (2001). Bilingual children’s mother tongue: Why is it important for education? Sprogforum, 19, 15–20. Cummins, J. (2005). Language proficiency, bilingualism, and academic achievement. In P. A. Richard-Amato and M. A. Snow (Eds.), Academic success for English language learners: Stategies for K-12 mainstream teachers (p. 76-86). White Plains: Pearson Education.
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