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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A between groups comparison of gains in English proficiency in a sheltered English immersion program Crittenden, Rose Elizabeth


Some second language learners are more successful than others. Students in the University of British Columbia/Ritsumeikan Joint Academic Exchange Programme, a sheltered English-as-a-second-language (ESL) immersion program, have in the past exhibited varying degrees of gain in English proficiency in their writing, reading, speech, and academic achievement during their stay in Vancouver. The explanation of why some learners become proficient in a second language may lie in our understanding the interactions of such individual attributes as the learner's age, language aptitudes, autonomy and motivation, attitudes, personality, cognitive style, learning strategies, background in language and knowledge of other languages. In this study the gain in English proficiency of all the students in the program was examined first and then the gain of two different groups of students who were categorized and "low" and "high" on the basis of their entry level scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The standardized tests used in this program were supplemented with two additional tests to measure gain in proficiency. A language experience questionnaire was given to all students and interviews of selected students from each group were conducted. The results of the standardized tests were analyzed and a significant difference in the gain of English proficiency between these two groups was found. An evaluation of the individual language learning histories and the interview data was conducted to further understand the language proficiency gains found from the psychometric measures. Implications for instruction and further research were reached.

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