The Role of English as a Foreign Language in Educating Refugees in Norway
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Like other Western European countries, Norway has seen a steady influx of refugees in the last two decades. As elsewhere in Europe, dominant ideologies of language and language learning affect refugees in complicated ways. Government regulations state that refugees in Norway are expected to develop proficiency in Norwegian and obtain jobs in the community of settlement. However, despite English being Norway’s most important foreign language often required for higher education and employment, its role is downplayed in refugee education programs. Seeking to explore refugee students’ voices and to empower them to shape their futures in Norway, we examine how refugees and their teachers in schools in the two small communities of Storbu and Laksvær perceive the role of English in their educational and employment opportunities. Using semistructured face-to-face interviews with teachers and refugee education coordinators, as well as a short survey administered to selected adult refugees in the two communities, we compare how these groups envision refugees’ educational and professional success and the role of English education and proficiency in it. The findings suggest a hidden curriculum and discrepancies between educational and career goals set by the refugeebackground students and Norwegian authorities, teachers, and administrators.