Publication Date


Document Type



Master of Arts in Education (MA)

MA Concentration

Teaching and Learning


Jim O'Connor, Happy Johnson


Research shows that English language learners (ELLs) acquire a second language more easily and quickly when sound teaching strategies are used. Learners need to practice all language skill areas in the classroom: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Adult learners especially need time and opportunity to use the new language in authentic conversation. ELLs learn vocabulary best when it is in a context. Studies show that when teachers encourage students in multiple ways and create a classroom atmosphere that engages the students in rich language experiences, it reduces anxiety and enhances learning.

This research study explores learners' perceptions of the most effective strategies that assist them in acquiring English. Learner participant responses to a written survey and follow-up oral interview indicate that learners value spending class time on certain skill areas. A majority of the participants valued listening, speaking and conversation as most effective. More students selected learning new words by reading a story which is learning words in context rather than discrete lists of words. A majority of participants preferred to work in a group or in pairs, a combined 15 out of 19 participants surveyed, or 79%, which affords more opportunity to engage in conversation, to practice the new language together in community.