Exploring EFL Learners’ Experience of Foreign Language Proficiency Maintenance: A Phenomenological Study

Seyyed Ali Ostovar-Namaghi, Nahid Rahmanian


Having developed foreign language proficiency, a large number of EFL learners experience some degrees of foreign language loss later in life since English has no social function in many EFL contexts including Iran. However, there are some language learners who actively maintain and develop their proficiency long after they leave language education programs. This study aims at uncovering techniques applied by this minority group in maintaining their foreign language proficiency. Participants who were willing to share their experience of proficiency maintenance were selected through purposive and snowball sampling and verbalizations of their experience were then analyzed in line with phenomenology research design. Abstraction and thematic analysis of the participants’ experiences revealed that they actively create conditions that are conducive to proficiency maintenance such as reviewing previously learned materials, watching target language movies and actively manipulating subtitles, reading for pleasure, attending discussion groups, and using internet to communicate in the target language. While proficiency loss and attrition is the norm in EFL contexts, maintenance is an exception; hence, the findings of this study have clear and immediate implications for both foreign language teachers and learners since they provide them with down-to-earth, data-driven techniques of proficiency maintenance.  


proficiency maintenance, leaners’ experience, phenomenology

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.1p.32


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