Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

World Languages

Committee Member

Ildiko Porter-Szucs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Francis Feingold, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elisabeth Morgan, Ph.D.


The U.S. Catholic population has a larger proportion of immigrants than the U.S. population at large. The majority of Catholic immigrants come from Latin America and are not native speakers of English. In this qualitative study, I interviewed nine Catholic immigrants from Latin America to better understand their experiences of navigating their Catholic faith in the United States and the role an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) class could play in helping them successfully adjust to United States Catholicism. Findings suggest that, beyond a general ESL class, an English-for-specific-purposes class, capitalizing on the universality of Catholicism and specialized for Catholic prayer, liturgy, sacraments, and community life, could equip immigrant Catholics to live their faith in English. English Language Teaching (ELT) and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) professionals are encouraged to be more attentive to their students’ spiritual needs, and Catholics conducting outreach efforts, including ESL classes, are encouraged to specialize their ESL classes to assist students in ways other ESL programs cannot.