Special Issue "Immigrant and Refugee Languages"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Martha Young-Scholten

School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University
Interests: second language acquistion of morphosyntax and acquisition of phonology; phonological awareness; development of decoding; development of comprehension by low-literate adult migrants
Guest Editor
Dr. Rola Naeb

Applied Linguistics, Department of Humanities, Northumbria University
Website | E-Mail
Interests: technology-enhanced learning; second language acquisition; educational linguistics; linguistic integration of adult migrants
Guest Editor
Dr. Marcin Sosiński

Department of Spanish Language, University of Granada
Interests: second language acquisition; teaching to immigrants in non formal contexts; phraseology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The goal of this Special Issue is to showcase state of the art research on language and literacy acquisition by adult migrants including but not limited to refugees and asylum seekers. The volume will examine a variety of theoretical and empirical issues such as: L2 learning and acquisition ​​by literate or non/low-literate adults from a psycholinguistic or sociolinguistic perspective; simultaneous learning of second language and literacy; the influence of L1(s) and/or its orthography; instructed vs. uninstructed learners; typological proximity or distance between L1(s) and the target languages; and educational policy.

Please note: the length of the manuscripts should be between 6000 and 10,000 words including references.

Prof. Martha Young-Scholten
Dr. Rola Naeb
Dr. Marcin Sosiński
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • linguistic integration
  • adult migrants
  • low-literate adult learners
  • acquisition of morphosyntax
  • development of reading
  • educational policy

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.


Title: Emerging Constructions in the L2 Italian Spoken by Low Literate Migrants

Author: Egle Mocciaro

Abstract: The emergence of autonomous interlanguage constructions is widely recognised in the literature on L2 Italian. These constructions involve overgeneralisation of functional forms learners are in the process of acquiring, e.g. ‘be’, ‘do’, ‘for’ in the following cases:

  • siamo:be.1stpl mangiare:eat ‘(lit.) (we) are eat’ (Banfi/Bernini’s 2003)
  • facciamo:do.1stpl cucinare:cook ‘(lit.) (we) do cook’
  • piaciare:like per:forfuori:go.out ‘(lit.) (I) like for go out’ (Bernini 1989; Valentini 2001).

‘Be’/‘do’ forms are assigned the morphosyntactic function to convey temporal/aspectual/person information instead of the uninflected verb, while per is a generic subordinating mark. Based on new corpus data, I claim that such constructions may correlate to learners’ degree of L1 literacy. More in detail, consistent with Vainikka et al. (2017), both literate and non-literate learners develop constructions involving overgeneralised forms while working on the newly acquired morphosyntax, but non-literates show a stronger tendency than literates to recruit functional forms different from verbs (i.e. per).


Title: Teaching Spanish for Immigrants and Refugees in a Spanish Public Center

Authors: Margarita Isabel Asensio Pastor * and Juan Pablo Carmona García

Abstract: This paper is part of the R + D research project DIPURE (Public Discourse on Refugees in Spain) and it is one of the research lines of the research group "Andalusian Circle of Applied Linguistics, HUM-194" on the study of the teaching Spanish as a Second Language (SL) for immigrants and refugees. Its objective is to establish a profile of Spanish students of SL of Official School of Languages (OSL). For this, we have carried out an exploratory study based on a mixed quantitative-qualitative method where, among other instruments, the participant observation and the Likert-type questionnaire that it is used among students of the OSL of Granada from level A1 to B2. The data obtained has allowed us to reflect on the migratory process in Spain and on the work in the classrooms of a public center on students who study Spanish as SL: learning beliefs, needs and attitudes, as well as didactic preferences. The information obtained undoubtedly serves to improve the Spanish teaching practice as a host language in a public educational context, since it allows students to make the appropriate curricular and organizational adaptations for this type of student.


Title: Language Support for Forced Migrants: Who is Responsible?

Authors: Mike Chick and Iona Hannagan Lewis

Abstract: This article stems from research conducted into the barriers to education and employment faced by participants on a UK government, managed refugee resettlement programme.  It is argued that language should indeed play a key role in migration policy. However this is not so that language competency can be used as a “gatekeeping device” (Simpson & Whiteside, 2015: 6), but because the provision of “English language classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL) underpins equality of opportunities, and enriches the culture of our society” (Welsh Government, 2018: 1). The paper focuses on the challenges to integration that the families have experienced since arriving in Wales, UK and draws attention to ways in which UK government advice, for the local authorities tasked with overseeing English language provision and integration, is “at odds with what is actually happening on the ground” (Simpson & Whiteside, 2015: 1).A number of recommendations for the organisation of ESOL provision for forced migrants will be made, while attention will also be drawn to the structural barriers that remain, and which may impede successful integration.


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