Language learning and transit refugees in Turkey : a case study of Afghans in Sivas
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Please cite this item using this persistent URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/11693/15190
This work characterizes the sociological and sociolinguistic situation faced by refugees and asylum seekers living temporarily in Turkey. Despite the fact that such information could be of direct use to refugee aid organizations and refugee-receiving countries, there has been no serious attempt to research the ways in which these particular transit refugees obtain education. This study is an initial attempt to address this research gap, in particular with regard to language learning. The study has three main components: First, it characterizes the linguistic challenges faced by refugees both while living in Turkey and after they have resettled to a third country. Second, it gives an overview of the opportunities currently available to refuges and asylum seekers to learn Turkish and English, either privately or through formal instruction, while living in Turkey. The final component gives informed speculation on what sorts of systematic changes, either to the Turkish legal system or to the aid programs offered by non-governmental organizations, might ameliorate some of the problems present in the current system. The study is based on a series of interviews with refugees and representatives of various aid organizations. The results of the study indicate that there are a variety of traditional and non-traditional forms of refugee language learning going on in Turkey, but that these are viewed as grossly insufficient both by aid organizations and refugees themselves. Afghan refugees interviewed in Sivas, for instance, consistently spoke of language acquisition as one of the biggest challenges they face, and a crucial aspect of how they spend their time in Turkey. Interviewees were acutely aware of the fact that they would need English in order to lead successful lives after resettlement, while aid organizations generally saw the need for new educational structures, but had not been able to offer broad support outside of Istanbul and Ankara. In the analysis portion of this study, some of the main difficulties faced by aid organizations interested in providing language support are addressed, and suggestions are made concerning how future aid projects might sensibly be implemented.