First Advisor

Lynn Santelmann

Date of Publication

Summer 8-9-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

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


Applied Linguistics




Empathy, Second language acquisition, Cultural relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 58 pages)


This study reviews concepts and the mechanism of empathy, and the relationship between empathy and language proficiency, focusing on the aspect of cognitive empathy. It also discusses whether empathy levels could be developed by learning language to a highly proficient level. I compared the empathy levels between high and low proficiency second-language learners to determine if there was correlation between empathy and other factors such as gender, studying abroad, education background, and usage of a second language. I found that there was no relationship between empathy level and language proficiency level; however, there was one between empathy and gender. For further research, I suggest continuing studies in executive function in adults, especially adult bilinguals (including highly proficient second language learners), and to investigate how executive function in adults influences behavior and empathy development.


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