Fall 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Julia Reimer

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Patsy Egan

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Monica Leong


This qualitative study addresses two questions related to access to social services for adult newcomers with limited L1 print literacy skills: First, what barriers do LESLLA clients experience to accessing social services and to settlement? Second, what resources are they employing in order to access these services? Five LESLLA learners, a LESLLA instructor and a settlement counselor were interviewed about barriers and enablers to accessing social services where a disconnect between assumed and actual print-literacy skills exists. Participants also discussed work-arounds for accessing those services. While LESLLA participants reporting greater length of residency also described increased cultural capital, all LESLLA participants identified key barriers to services as language and print literacy skills, as well as knowledge or information about the ways in which systems work. Recommendations for LESLLA teachers and service providers include increasing staff awareness of barriers to access and reducing the print literacy load required for access to services within agencies. Further recommendations include providing information about and making direct connections between LESLLA and service providers. LESLLA programs, settlement agencies, and other social service providers might consider the settlement counselor’s model ‘inform, refer, connect’ when thinking about program and service design for LESLLA learners and clients.

Research Methodology

Case Study


ESL/ ELLs, Literacy, Refugee Resettlement

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Education Commons