Towards an Understanding of EFL Learners’ Experiences of Maintaining Foreign Language Proficiency: A Grounded Theory Study


In many EFL settings, English language education begins in preschool and continues through college. Throughout their learning trajectories, many English learners develop language proficiency to a certain functional level. Nonetheless, it has been noted that after developing foreign language proficiency, many English learners later experience some foreign language loss because English to some extent has no social function in their real lives. Therefore, developing acceptable English proficiency is difficult and challenging. However, some language learners still actively seek to maintain and develop their language skills long after they have left school. This study aims to explore the strategies employed by this group of learners in maintaining proficiency in a foreign language in Taiwan. Purposive sampling was used to select participants willing to share their proficiency maintenance experiences. Their experiences were then analyzed based on a grounded theory research design. Thematic analysis of the participants' experiences shows that while a majority of participants underwent deskilling because of lack of use, they not only sought to maintain their level of proficiency using a variety of strategies driven by their intrinsic motivation but also developed proficiency through actively using their language knowledge and skills. They created conditions conducive to maintaining proficiency, such as reviewing previously learned materials, watching target language films and actively manipulating subtitles, enjoying reading, participating in discussion groups, and using the Internet to communicate in the target language. Implications of the results of this study for foreign language education are discussed.

Author Information
Shih-Chieh Chien, National Taipei University of Business, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2024
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

This paper is part of the ACEID2024 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Chien S. (2024) Towards an Understanding of EFL Learners’ Experiences of Maintaining Foreign Language Proficiency: A Grounded Theory Study ISSN: 2189-101X – The Asian Conference on Education & International Development 2024 Official Conference Proceedings
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