Perceptions of settlement well-being, language proficiency, and employment: an investigation of immigrant adult language learners in Australia
Second language (L2) learning and settlement in a new country are inextricably intertwined. This relationship varies across individuals who go through differing experiences across times, contexts and circumstances. One of the indicators of this relationship is the progress/success or lack thereof in L2 learning and how it impacts on one’s perception of settlement. This study explores the settlement experiences of 46 adult immigrant learners of English from three first language (L1) backgrounds: Mandarin, Arabic, and Vietnamese. All were undertaking English language study in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at the time of investigation. Data were collected at two stages over a 1-year period and consisted of audio-recordings, transcripts, and field notes of semi-structured interviews. There was a significant positive relationship between proficiency gains and change in perception of well-being, indicating that the greater the extent of progress in proficiency, the more likely the perception of well-being increases. Findings also suggest that learners’ employment status had no effect on their perceptions of either settlement satisfaction or progress in L2. Qualitative analysis of data revealed that immigrants’ perception of their own language skills and settlement well-being impacted on their perception and process of L2 learning. While employment per se was not necessarily conducive to settlement wellbeing, the attainment of a job played a role in settlement and the L2 learning process in two ways: (1) by helping identify the requirements of L2 skills for the particular job, and (2) by facilitating their plans to attain a better job.