Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

World Languages

Committee Member

Zuzana Tomaš, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Cynthia Macknish, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Morgan, Ph.D.


This survey-based research investigates the perspectives on first language (L1) use by adult students of English as a second language (ESL) in three ESL community-based programs in Michigan, United States. The study focuses on community-based programs because, even though it offers a variety of social, educational, and language backgrounds, this setting has been underrepresented in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) research on L1 inclusion in ESL classes. The key findings of this study demonstrate that students use their L1 regardless of their English proficiency and lack of encouragement by teachers. In addition, students believe specific L1 uses (e.g., translating vocabulary and taking notes) can help them learn English. Overall, the findings suggest that strategic use of L1 has the potential to benefit community-based learners across different proficiency levels by fostering their second language (L2) acquisition as well as affirming their identity as multilingual and multicultural individuals.