Mouma, Walaa

Mouma,  Walaa
Start date:
September 2023
Research Topic:
Understanding Second Language Acquisition for Syrian Female Refugees
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Vivienne Rogers and Dr Gwennan Higham
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:

I aim to investigate the English language learning experiences of Syrian female refugees in Wales, specifically those with low-literacy skills in their first language, Arabic. The motivation for this research lies in the vulnerability of refugees and the UK government’s resettlement commitment for up to 20,000 Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) (Home Office, 2017). Focusing on female refugees is essential, as they are particularly vulnerable and under-studied in the literature (Ennser-Kananen and Pettitt, 2017). Limited low-literacy skills in the learners’ first language can impede integration into new communities (Capps et al., 2017). My personal connection as a Syrian female refugee, coupled with my work experience assisting refugees with low-literacy skills, motivates this research. I have witnessed their struggles and challenges, emphasising the importance of exploring their unique experiences.

To systematically address this, two sub-questions shape my analysis:
1. What difficulties do they face while learning English as a second language (L2)?
2. How is their sense of identity re/shaped by learning L2?

The inquiry unfolds logically, with refugees arriving in Wales possessing transferable literacy skills in Arabic. My overarching objective is to examine how they navigate English learning challenges with limited literacy skills in their native language, followed by an exploration of evolving dynamics in identity transformation. This research aspires to contribute to improved language learning policies for female refugees, particularly in the Welsh context.