Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 50:8 (May 2007), pp. 668-679; doi: 10.1598/JAAL.50.8.5


Copyright © 2007 International Reading Association; published by Wiley. Used by permission.


A refugee student’s literacy practices are examined. Discrepancies between his in-school and out-of-school literacies highlight the tension he and his teachers experience.

The purpose of this study is to examine a high school boy’s experiences in an ELL language acquisition program, at home, and in the work place. Within these contexts, we explore Hayder’s participation in literacy events in light of his identity as a Yezidi Kurdish refugee in and out of school.

Our study indicates that reading instruction works for students such as Hayder when certain support structures are in place. Teaching “styles” matter, as does the content of the reading instruction. We found that although teachers attempted to connect Hayder’s literacy learning to the outside work world, Hayder thought that there was little in school that could help him earn a living to support his parents and younger siblings.