A discourse analysis of U.S. national and state language policies: restraining English instruction for refugee adults




Whitney, Diana Maria Josephina

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Using a (critical) discourse analytic approach, this thesis examines how refugee policies at different scales (state and national) interact and entextualize specific perspectives on second language acquisition. Policy texts examined include the Refugee Act (1980), Code of Federal Regulations (2011), Texas Administrative Code (2004), Request for Proposals (RFP) for Refugee Social Services (2008), and the Refugee Social Services Provider Manual (2008).

This study contrasts discourses of language acquisition and learning as reflected in policy documents with principles of second language learning to determine how these texts support or do not support long-term goals for English language development, integration, and self-sufficiency. The data show how discourses embedded in policies frame English as a Second Language (ESL) programs as an employability service with a principal focus on the achievement of economic self-sufficiency. Moreover, the discourses in the current policies, I show, have significant pedagogical implications, particularly in the allocation of federal funding for educational programs.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Acquisition Planning, Critical Discourse Analysis, English as a Second Language, Integration, Language Policy, Refugees



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies