Solange Ariel Andrea Santarelli

ESR13: Multilingualism and language learning among minor refugees

Lead beneficiary: Centro Provinciale per I'istruzione degli adulti Palermo 1 (CPIA 1)

Main supervisor: F. Faloppa

About me:

I have a background in Area studies, specifically in South Asian Studies. During my Research MA in Asian Studies at Leiden University, my main interest was contemporary Hindi Literature, particularly texts related to social issues. I start being interested in teaching while I was in The Netherlands and I had the opportunity to teach Hindi language for beginners at Rotterdam Business school of Applied Science.

After my graduation, I decided to know more about teaching and I spent two months in Gaziantep, Turkey, where I taught English through non-formal education activities for Syrian and Afghan children. After having a taste of what does it mean teaching in a context of migration, I decided to deepen my knowledge in the field and I started an online MA of the University of Milan (Master Promoitals) about teaching Italian language as LS and L2. In the meanwhile, I taught Italian language as a volunteer in two associations in Milan that focus their attention on women integration in Italian society. One association in particular deals with cases of women who have been victims of human trafficking and sexual trade. During my experience in these NGOs I started to be familiar with the difficulties of teaching to illiterates.

As a mandatory part of the Master, I had to do an internship and, though to the difficulties I encountered while teaching to illiterates, I decided to do it at ItaStra, the School of Italian Language for Foreigners of the University of Palermo. In fact, ItaStra is specialized in alphabetization courses for young migrants and refugees and I had the opportunity to learn innovative teaching techniques for this specific target group.

After my master and a five months’ parenthesis during which I taught Italian language in Izmir, Turkey, I came back to Palermo because I won a post-graduate scholarship at ItaStra for working on an e-learning platform for young migrants and refugees.

My last research interest is in the field of Sociolinguistic, about multilinguistic and multicultural contexts. Particularly I’m interested in migrants’ multilingualism during their journey, in Libya and in city of arrival such as Palermo, where people of different origins live together in the same urban context.


My research project for MULTIMIND (ERS13) will take as a case study the city of Palermo, a perfect example of multilingual reality though to its position at the crossroads of migrants’ routes to Europe. I will focus my attention on evaluating which teaching methodologies are used in language classes for young migrants and refugees and suggesting effective teaching techniques in this context. In addition to this, I will also take into exam multilingualism outside the classroom, particularly in reception centres for migrants and refugees as well as in the city itself. 

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska Curie grant agreement No 765556.

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