At the heart of almost every issue the Greater Hartford refugees described was a lack of English language proficiency. One interesting finding that Greater Hartford Refugees expressed was that the English learning process itself is not as effective and efficient as it could be. One issue described about the current language acquisition process was that the classes—taught mostly by volunteers—were not structured in a way that favored a gradual acquisition of language. Additionally, some participants expressed difficulties accessing these classes due to how far away from home they are. Participants expressed that these inefficiencies with language acquisition contribute to a current process that lacks the consistency needed to be able to confidently use basic English in their daily lives. Participants believed that they would be able to improve upon their skills by being placed in English speaking environments. that they want to have more interactions that involve English to be able to improve upon their skills.
One major issue that came up among all focus groups included difficulties in finding enough time to take English classes. Greater Hartford Refugees expressed difficulties to find the time that it takes to learn English. This was primarily due to the fact that they have to work long hours to support themselves and their families financially. With employment taking up much of their time, Refugees have no time to work on developing their English skills. In addition, some participants suggested that work also takes away from their ability to pursue degrees in higher education.
Not enough time to learn english
This was by far one of the most common things we heard from our research group participants. Because many of them had to find work so quickly, they did not have the opportunity to enroll in a traditional English class and/or take the time to learn it. Many of them also don’t have the opportunity to use English at work which makes learning it in their free time a challenge.
Inconsistent English Learning Process
Participants in our focus groups often expressed a frustration with the lack of consistency around learning English. For example, many of the teachers they are working with are volunteers who are following different curriculums around language learning. This, combined with the lack of time to take a traditional class made many of the refugees we spoke with feel stuck.
No time for education for adults
Many adults in our focus groups expressed that there was simply not enough time to enroll in traditional schooling because of their work and family commitments. The challenged around this issue varied greatly but were mentioned by many.
Access to schooling for kids
Many of the refugees expressed frustration with the complications around getting their kids a good education. This issue intersects quite a bit with housing as school access has a lot to do with location (town, city, etc.)