Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education 2016, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 28–41 doi: 10.1080/15595692.2015.1084919


Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


The lack of research about the Karen—one of 135 ethnic groups from Myanmar—limits literacy educators charged with educating this refugee population in public schools. In this case study the authors explore the literacy practices of Karen families when at school and in their homes and within an ESL family literacy program. The case of these refugee families and their experiences are analyzed within a sociocultural theoretical framework along with a focus on literacy adaptation through the lenses of crosscultural studies, adult and language teachers involved in literacy practices, and literacy studies. Four core themes emerged from participant observation, including adult/ parent learners’ engagement with memorization, parents’ literacy practices through reading texts aloud (recitation) to improve their speaking skills, and parents’ use of computers to engage with American media. The study offers important educational understandings of one of the world’s least known diaspora.