Background and context

These materials were first used as part of a classroom research project , ‘Our Languages’ whose aim was to bridge the gap between ESOL teaching and learning and Sociolinguistics, particularly those areas relating to the language and literacy of migrants in the UK.  The research linked ESOL teachers and students with sociolinguistic researchers via an 8 week classroom programme which took place in two classes in different parts of London. As part of this project, we designed materials and resources which would bring some ideas from sociolinguistics into the ESOL classroom to introduce both teachers and students to this area of study. What emerged was a fascinating set of lessons which focussed solely on the themes related to language. You can read more in our report


The original inspiration for the project came from an existing ethnographic research project, Diasporic Adult Language Socialisation, which investigated the lives of Sri Lankan Tamils in the UK. Some of this was very specific to the Sri Lankan diaspora, and some had general relevance to experiences of migration. We focussed on one small part of that research, which was the part that related to language. We used the interview data in two ways. Firstly, we listened to the interviews and picked out themes which we thought would be relevant to ESOL learners in the UK and we drew inspiration from these to devise lessons with a sociolinguistic content, and secondly we used some excerpts of the interviews in the classroom with students as a basis for discussion.