Limited English-Proficient Students: Analysis of Subjective Experiences


  • Diana Karanauskienė
  • Asta lil
  • Lina Danilevičienė



Background. Many long-term adolescent and adult learners experience persistent academic underachievement
in English in spite of many years of schooling. Students pertaining A2 level can be classified as Limited English-
Proficient Learners who have not acquired English proficiency as required by the university, state and European
guidelines. Research aim was to analyse the perceptions of underachieving students of reasons of their failure to gain
English language proficiency of the required level aiming at increasing the knowledge on the problem and providing
possible solutions for improvement.
Methods.  Participants’  perceptions  of  their  underachievement  reasons  were  elicited  through  individual
unstructured in-depth interviews. Data analysis occurred concurrently with data collection using grounded theory
as a method for analysing the data. Member checks with several research participants, reflexive journaling and peer
debriefing were also utilized to ensure trustworthiness of the study .
Results.  The  examination  of  interview  transcripts  revealed  two  big  themes  concerning  the  students’
underachievement in the English language: internal and external causes for being limited English-proficient learner.
External causes were conditions for learning English at school and at the university: poor learning in primary grades,
underestimated value of knowing and learning English at school, inadequate conditions for informal learning, and
poor organization of English lessons. University factors mentioned were too few contact hours for English classes,
inconvenient time-table, and lack of time due to other activities. Internal factors were fear to look unacceptable
(resulting in the inactivity in the classes), lack of self-confidence, too much self-criticism, laziness, procrastination,
finding faults with others, inadequate perception of the course, poor attitudes towards the course, lack of internal
motivation, rating the module of English as a second-rate course, not knowing how to learn the language, and, what
is most important, absence of self-study skills.
Conclusions. Internal factors conditioning underachievement in the English language proved to be much more
important than the external ones. Poor self-esteem, lack of motivation and poor attitudes towards the course suggest
the need of the individualization of teaching/learning and psychological counselling. Lack of self-study skills can
predict poor academic achievements in other university courses, which could result in drop-outs. This suggests the
need of coaching students in learning skills. The collected data show that the teacher also plays a crucial role in
language learning, however, the wider societal, cultural and psychological context should be articulated in further
possible research as well. Study programmes at tertiary level should be designed to encourage both internal and
external  motivation  of  students  to  study  foreign  languages  as  an  indispensable  factor  for  developing  a  full-rate

Keywords:  limited English – proficient learners, qualitative research, underachievement.


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How to Cite

Karanauskienė, D., lil, A., & Danilevičienė, L. (2018). Limited English-Proficient Students: Analysis of Subjective Experiences. Baltic Journal of Sport and Health Sciences, 2(97).



Social Sciences in Sport