Learning to Become Good Mothers : Immigrant Mothers as Adult Learners

Yidan ZHU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Immigrant mothers, who are socially constructed as an isolated group of people, are often excluded from the studies of adult learners. In adult education, few studies focus on immigrant mothers’ ways of learning, mothering, and knowing. Based on a critical ethnographical study, this article sheds lights on immigrant mothers’ learning in a foreign land. It unveils how immigrant mothers learn mothering skills and how their lifelong learning practice interacts with the ideology of mothering in contemporary neoliberal contexts. The data come from a 2-year critical ethnographic study that included 30 in-depth interviews with Chinese immigrant mothers in a Vancouver-based immigration settlement organization in Canada. The following five types of immigrant mothers’ lifelong learning practices are examined and analyzed: (a) learning parenting skills, (b) learning to find a job, (c) learning language, (d) learning to drive, and (e) learning to live a healthy lifestyle. This article argues that immigrant mothers’ lifelong learning practice constitutes a mechanism, one in which the ideology of mothering and immigrant mothers’ everyday learning and mothering deeply interact to reproduce race, gender, and class relations. This article concludes that there is a need to study immigrant mothers, as adult learners, and to reexamine knowledge systems, ideologies, and people’s different ways of knowing and learning in adult education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-394
Number of pages18
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date21 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • adult learners
  • Chinese immigrants
  • immigrant mothers
  • lifelong learning
  • motherhood learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Learning to Become Good Mothers : Immigrant Mothers as Adult Learners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this