Teaching Adult Migrants

A Focus on the Languages They Speak


  • Belma Haznedar Boğaziçi University
  • Joy Kreeft Peyton Center for Applied Linguistics
  • Martha Young-Scholten Newcastle University


As language practitioners shift away from the view that migrants must privilege the majority language over their home language(s) for purposes of integration into their new country, we join them and argue for including research on bilingualism / multilingualism in training and professional development for teachers of adult migrants with little or no formal schooling or literacy in their home language. Our focus is on this population, who often lack the social capital and institutional access to organize formal bilingual programs and language maintenance initiatives that are common in middle-class communities. In the following article, we review current research on bilingualism / multilingualism and suggest approaches that will support and develop adult migrants’ home languages and learning of the majority language of the new country.   

Author Biographies

Belma Haznedar, Boğaziçi University

Haznedar, PhD, is a professor of Applied Linguistics at Boğaziçi University, Turkey, and an assistant coordinator to the EU-Speak 3 Executive Board. She has worked with simultaneous and successive bilingual children for 20 years and designed the Bilingualism/Multilingualism module of the EU-Speak 3 project. She is the co-editor of Current Trends in Child Second Language Acquisition: A Generative Perspective (2008, with E. Gavruseva), Handbook for Teaching Foreign Languages to Young Learners in Primary Schools (2010, with H.H Uysal), and The Acquisition of Turkish in Childhood (2016, with F. N. Ketrez). She has numerous publications on bilingualism, language teaching, and teacher education. She served as the Management Committee (MC) member in the (BISLI) project (COST-ACTION ISO-804) and is currently serving as the Turkish representative in the European Literacy Network (ELN, COST-ACTION IS1402) project. The focus of her work is on literacy development of monolingual and bilingual individuals, with special reference to migrants and their teachers in Turkey. 

Joy Kreeft Peyton, Center for Applied Linguistics

Peyton, PhD, is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) and an Executive Board member of the EU-Speak 3 project. She was a founding member of the Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages, hosted at CAL, and is a co-founder of the National Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools. She is co-editor of Heritage Languages in America: Preserving a National Resource and Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States: Research, Educational Practice, and Policy. She has over 35 years of experience in the field of languages, linguistics, and culture in education, collaborating with teachers and teacher trainers in K–12 and adult education programs to improve their instructional practice. She serves on a number of project and editorial advisory boards focused on improving education and outcomes for students learning a second/additional language. 

Martha Young-Scholten, Newcastle University

Young-Scholten, PhD, is a professor of Second Language Acquisition at Newcastle University. She directs the EU-Speak initiative. Since earning her PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle, she has been carrying out research, teaching, and supervising students’ research on the second language acquisition of morphosyntax and phonology by adults and on the development of reading by migrants with little or no formal education. She publishes internationally and has given talks and taught in North and South America, East Asia, Africa, and Europe. She co-directed the Simply Cracking Good Stories project with creative writer Margaret Wilkinson, with whom she develops simple and engaging short fiction books for beginning-level adults.






“They Don’t Hear my Tongue Dance in Arabic”