The emancipation continuum: analysing the role of ESOL in the settlement of immigrants

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This article explores connections between language and the social inclusion of immigrants. It analyses three different models of immigration settlement: assimilation, integration through social capital, and inclusion. It then explores how education - and in particular the teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) - can promote values and develop capacities in immigrant learners that either restrict or promote their ability to flourish as active, included members of society. I present these concepts on a continuum, as a framework that can be applied to analyse the role of ESOL in the settlement of immigrants. This continuum is then applied to the ESOL context in Scotland and reveals that, despite the emancipatory language in Scottish government policy discourse, the impact of ESOL provision is largely limited to the empowerment of individual learners and has little impact on addressing structural inequalities or injustices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-880
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number5-6
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2021


  • ESOL
  • immigration
  • integration
  • emancipation
  • social inclusion
  • empowerment


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