Date of Award

Spring 2017


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in English: Teaching English as a Second Language




This triple case study examined the diverse ways in which two Saudis and one Italian English language learner (ELL) came to speaking proficiency according to his or her own perceptions and observations. The researcher conducted interviews of the two Saudi ELLs face-to-face and the one Italian ELL through Skype by asking 15 open-ended questions related to their English language learning experiences (narrative inquiry) specifically related to speaking proficiency from their beginning learning through the present. This study was not intended as a contrastive analysis.

The researcher was a monolingual English speaker with beginning experience in Korean and Spanish, and was currently working to become proficient in Italian. She has taught English at the elementary level in South Korea for several years and has tutored Italian ELLs of all ages ranging from the elementary age through later adulthood.

The researcher’s findings have indicated four categories identified as instrumental in these learners’ paths to speaking proficiency. The categories included authentic exposure to English through different mediums, frequent exposure through practice and repetition, interactive practice with peers and others at a higher level of speaking proficiency, and a reason to study English that motivated them and combined their interests whether it was through need, enjoyment or personal achievement.