The Learning Journey of College At- Risk EFL Students in Taiwan: An Exploratory Study

| June 4, 2014
Title
The Learning Journey of College At- Risk EFL Students in Taiwan: An Exploratory Study

Keywords: at-risk EFL learners, FL learning difficulties and problems, English proficiency graduation threshold, phenomenological research 

Author

Tun-Whei Isabel Chuo*
Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan

Shu-chin Helen Yen
Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan

Bio

Tun-Whei Isabel Chuo is currently an associate professor in the English Department at Wenzao Ursuline University of Language in Taiwan. She received her master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from Penn State University and her Ed. D degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on TESOL from La Sierra University. Her research interests lie in second language acquisition, ESL/EFL teaching methodology, and materials and curriculum design.
Shu-chin Helen Yen is currently an associated professor in the English Department at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Taiwan. Her research interests lie in genre-based writing instruction, language learning strategies, and World Englishes.

Abstract
This phenomenological study aims to explore the overall essence of the learning experiences of college at-risk EFL learners from the perspective of FL learning difficulties and problems. The fifteen EFL learners who failed to pass the English proficiency graduation threshold were purposefully selected as participants. They were from a college in Taiwan, where a considerable number of students at the tertiary level have been unable to meet the English proficiency graduation requirement. Data were collected through in-depth individual interviews. We employed the phenomenological method to analyze the completed interview transcripts. Our analysis led to six themes that we found essential in describing the EFL learning experiences common to the participants: (1) Frustration in their early learning history; (2) Test-oriented curriculum overloaded with vocabulary and grammar learning; (3) Use of “rote memorization” as the dominant learning strategy despite awareness of its limited effectiveness; (4) Perceived low self-efficacy with a lack of self-regulated learning; (5) Inappropriate learning materials  that failed to elicit effective language acquisition; and (6) Contradiction between sustained motivation and mixed attitude. The procedure of how we generated these themes and how we interpreted the findings are discussed. Pedagogical implications are also offered to help at-risk EFL learners improve their learning.
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Category: Quarterly Journal