First Advisor

Kim Brown

Date of Publication

Winter 4-22-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




United States. Office of Refugee Resettlement, Refugees -- Services for -- Government policy, Refugees -- Cultural assimilation -- Oregon -- Portland, Refugees -- Oregon -- Portland -- Economic conditions, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 120 pages)


Since the 1951 United Nations Convention, nations have dealt with refugee issues in various ways. In the United States, since the Vietnam War, there has been great debate and a significant amount of research on issues of refugee resettlement, with these discourses inherently involving issues of power and ideology. English language training and the promotion of economic self-sufficiency have been interventions used to integrate and assimilate refugees into American culture and society. These two interventions were the subject of the current investigation.

The purpose of this study was to look into the way federal refugee resettlement policy mandated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) construes the notion of self-sufficiency in policy documents; and whether or not that constructed version of self-sufficiency is reflected or reinforced in the local attendant English language training, provided by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization's (IRCO) Pre-Employment Training's English language training courses.

Through a combination of Critical Discourse Analysis and analytic techniques influenced by Corpus Linguistics, this study was able to investigate the construal of self-sufficiency in ORR refugee resettlement policy and its reflection in IRCO PET ELT.

The ORR policy Title 45: Public Welfare, Part 400: Refugee Settlement Program and the lesson plans and materials of IRCO's PET's SPL levels 2 and 3 were analyzed with a textual analysis, process analysis, and social analysis. The ORR policy also underwent a collocation comparison analysis that employed the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA).

The results of this qualitative study indicate that the federal resettlement policy exploits a common connotation of self-sufficiency to mask its underlying subjugating policies that position resettled refugees into early employment positions with little opportunities for higher education or occupational advancement. The ELT provided by IRCO's PET program reflects and reinforces the ORR's construed notion of self-sufficiency as well as its underlying hegemonic agenda.

These findings this relate to broader discourses of immigration, neoliberalism, and education in the United States. Conclusions drawn from this investigation have pedagogical implications and applications that are discussed.


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