Phenomenology as a Path to English as a Second Language (ESL) Praxis, Curriculum and Theory-Making

  • Weena I. Gaulin
Part of the Education, Equity, Economy book series (EEEC, volume 7)


This chapter reports the findings of a study that examined the experience of 15 English as a Second Language (ESL) students studying in an Intensive English Program (IEP) hosted at an accredited institution of higher education. The research premise was that phenomenology – for its emphasis on making essential meaning out of lived experience (van Manen M: Researching lived experience. Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, 1990) – could serve as a theoretical framework to investigate how ESL students constructed their experience, and how these results could be used to inform ESL instructional, curricular, and theoretical practices in a fresh, new way within the larger task of rethinking diversity in the 21st century. The research employed qualitative data collection methods to include interviews, observations, artifact collection, and journaling. It was found that ESL students constructed their IEP experience along a continuum from linguistic, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and communal to active domains. When considered in light of educator preparation and ESL pedagogy, students’ voices pointed to the necessity of re-integrating pedagogical critical reflection, a love ethic, pedagogy of relations, and of presentness back into ESL daily instruction. Phenomenology, as a research procedure, breathed life and spirit anew into ESL students’ experience, thus humanizing the ESL educational experience – a provocative curricular and theoretical promise.


ESL Phenomenology Lived experience Relational pedagogy Linguistic differences 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of EducationSiena Heights UniversityAdrianUSA

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