Language, race and social inclusion

Research findings
This article looks at how female migrants to Australia invest heavily in learning English to achieve integration but can feel marginalized, both socially and economically. This study involved nine female migrants; the Asian participants experienced racial abuse and felt excluded from Australian society, some even felt ‘invisible’. The Europeans, on the other hand, experienced difficulties but had a greater sense of inclusion, leading the author to infer that they had a “white privilege” (p. 244). It is suggested that Asian students had to gain higher competency in English to gain employment. Yet, one of the Asian participants did gain employment in the legal sector. It could also be that the Europeans’ social strategies (as described by Taylor-Leech & Yates, 2012) were more effective as one participant invited local people to play tennis.
Implications for practice
Lexical and grammatical competence does not suffice in helping migrants gain a sense of identity or feeling of belonging. For some migrants race rather than English proficiency can impede inclusion in the workforce. For this reason, it may be best if learners are made aware of racial bias and how to address it but, more importantly, learn how to feel proud of their identity and take advantage of their multi-linguistic skills. Programmes for migrants need to address the social context and include more socio-pragmatic skills.