Lynn Santelmann

Date of Award

Winter 1-17-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics

Physical Description

1 online resource


Second language acquisition -- Social aspects, Self-efficacy -- Research, Language acquisition -- Psychological aspects, English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers -- Social aspects




Accounting for differences in second language proficiency attainment is an important area of inquiry in the study of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Accounts of the language acquisition process have generally come from cognitive or psychological perspectives, which view language learning as primarily an internal mental/emotional process, or from sociocultural or critical perspectives that emphasize the influence of the learner's social environment. Research on variability in language learning has also failed to take into account the learning experiences of low-level learners.

This study adopted a social-psychological perspective on language acquisition that focused on the role of self-efficacy in learning, and applied this perspective to understudied learners.

This study interviewed four low- to intermediate-proficiency English language learners (ELLs) from Mexico about their experiences and their self-efficacy beliefs about their ability to use their English. Their accounts of their experiences learning and using English were analyzed qualitatively and four major themes were found: the role of English language interlocutors, the participants' self-assessment of their abilities, structural obstacles to learning, and the participants' experiences of and responses to challenges. The results also explored students' expressions of self-efficacy, and the ways in which their levels of efficacy helped or hindered their ability to successfully engage in interactions with English speakers.

Persistent Identifier