The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

Kim Choonkyong

Third Advisor

Sharon Cogdill

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

SLIFE, ESL students, Limited education, Somali, SIFE



This research examines the experience of Somali latecomer students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE). SLIFE students are a subset of the larger group of English language learners (ELLs), who come to American schools with unique needs and often face socio-emotional challenges stemming from poverty, war, post-traumatic disorders (PTSD, family separation, language barriers and adapting to a new culture and environment. The participants of this study are Somali males and females who are currently living in the Midwest of the United States. The age of the participants is between 18 and 30 years old and are considered as having limited or interrupted formal education. Many of these SLIFE students experienced interrupted education while fleeing their home country due to instability and conflict. Thus, this study examines and analyzes the academic and non-academic experiences of SLIFE students who enter schools in the United States at a later age. The interviews compare and contrast the education they received in their home country to the one they received in the United States. This research adds valuable insight into the obstacles SLIFE students face as they are adapting to their new home and the factors that contribute to their success or failure in our educational system. For example, SLIFE students need various academic programs to help with their second language acquisition and master content knowledge which they are significantly behind their mainstream peers. They also need newcomer programs that support their social, mental health and economic situations while they are adjusting to their new homes and environment. Moreover, providing ample resources and opportunities would allow SLIFE students to succeed in the classroom and the real world. As a result, these discussions can help teachers, administrators, and policymakers determine how to accommodate best the growing population of SLIFE students in America public schools and how to best improve their education.