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Open Access Capstone

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This study explores the experiences of international students within their learning environment and the community at large from the vintage point of being second, third, or fourth language speakers of English. Six undergraduate participants ( three male and three female) were selected from five disciplines and·one undeclared major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A phenomenological interviewing process was used to explore the experiences of the non-native English speakers. Three sixty-minute interviews were conducted with each of the participants and later transcribed. The study explores the educational and social experiences of the participants in college, and also their experiences of English language acquisition in preschool through high school and before they entered college. Material is presented in the form of profiles using the interview transcripts and topical issues generated from views expressed by participants.

The study revealed obstacles participants confront and the sources of support they sought. Participants draw on a variety of resources in order to overcome the obstacles they face. Within their educational environment, participants faced specific problems related to spoken English, accent, proficiency, non-existent or minimal support services, and the need to meet institutional standards in speaking and writing. Conclusions were that socio-linguistic difficulties of non-native speakers of English can be enhanced by utilizing institution wide support mechanisms specific to both individual and group requirements, making personal endeavors aimed at improving oral speech and writing. The traditional attitude of non-acceptance and intolerance shown by native users of English towards non-native English speakers regarding issues.