Generation 1.5: the LBOTE blindspot

  • Frances Williamson
Keywords: LBOTE, Generation 1.5, academic literacies


Against the backdrop of the social inclusion and widening participation agendas in Australian Higher Education (Transforming Australian Higher Education, 2009; Review of Australian Higher Education, 2008), increasing attention and resources are being directed towards access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Patterns of post-migration settlement have shown that low socioeconomic areas are often areas in which high numbers of people report using a language other than English (LOTE) at home. This means that now more than ever, issues of English language proficiency in general, and levels of academic language development and preparedness in particular, are critical. And yet, a significant cohort of domestic language background other than English (LBOTE) student remains poorly understood. These students, known as Generation 1.5 (Rumbaut & Ima, 1988), are students who migrated to Australia from a non-English speaking country during childhood. By virtue of being schooled locally, these students often lack the usual markers of cultural or linguistic difference. Moreover, their native-like “sound” leads educators to assume students are more proficient in academic language than they are. Further contributing to this comparative invisibility, the majority of research into LBOTE students is devoted to international students or more recently arrived migrants. Where research has been conducted, the findings are often contradictory. This highlights the often neglected heterogeneity of this cohort. As such, these students represent a significant blind spot. This paper calls for more research in this area, in particular, into the academic writing of these students and for individual institutions to implement locally targeted academic language and literacies strategies.
How to Cite
Williamson, F. (2012). Generation 1.5: the LBOTE blindspot. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 6(2), A1-A13. Retrieved from