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Abstract

This research explored the acquisition of English by Programme Chechen refugees who arrived in Ireland eleven years ago. Many of them had less than a basic level of English. To meet their language needs, an intensive English course was set up by the local Vocational Education Committee. However, the refugees’ basic needs such as health care, parental care took precedence over language provision. The study found that the Chechens were unable to fully participate in and benefit from the language course. The process of acquiring English happened to a large extent outside the classroom. The study also looked at how the Chechens acquired language outside the classroom and within their social environment. The findings from assessments, a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, individual case studies and notes made from empirical observation all reinforced each other. This research showed that the Chechens in Roscommon town have become well integrated; they are independent and plan to stay. Most of them speak English quite well and are continuing to improve by participating in local society. However, based on the results of this research, it is recommended that in future , an initial language course for programme refugees should be adapted to allow for immediate pressing concerns over housing and health for example, and that such a course should be less intensive and longer. The paper will be of interest to those who teach refugees at any level as well as teachers of English as a second language and education policy makers.

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