Immigrant and refugee students face many challenges in adjusting to life in a new country especially when they are positioned by society in negative ways. In addition, they often encounter new beliefs and practices that challenge their identity and sense of self. This session focuses on digital storytelling as one way to engage students in identity work that helps them reflect on and make sense of their experience of migration and adjustment. The project gives students agency over telling their own story and the opportunity to reflect on and share their story and evolving identity with others. This kind of work develops students’ self-confidence, social skills, and language abilities and fosters a sense of belonging to a supportive community. When students feel like they belong, it increases their motivation and sense of competence, and it develops perseverance, all of which supports stronger academic performance. In this study, a brief review of the literature on identity-based ESL instruction is provided. Attendees will view and discuss stories of migration and adjustment that students created as part of a literature course on the immigrant experience. Data regarding students’ beliefs about the importance of understanding their own or their family’s migration story before and after they completed the project will be shared as well as students’ testimonials regarding what creating their migration story meant to them. Information about digital storytelling and strategies for incorporating it into a variety of instructional settings is also included as well as the benefits of students developing multimodal literacies.
Identity-based Multimodal Instruction
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Professor and Director of ESL, English, St. Catherine University, United States
Susan has taught ESL to refugee and immigrant students in higher education for more than 25 years. She is especially interested in intersections of language, culture, and identity in the ESL classroom.