Date of Award:

Fall 9-2017

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Yanghee Kim

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Ann Roemer

Third Advisor:

Sheri Haderlie

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the viability of an international distance English-language program in the development of language and cultural proficiency. Students participated in tests at the beginning and at the end of the course to determine how well they developed both language and cultural proficiencies. The measures included (a) the computer-administered Oral Proficiency Interview (OPIc) from theAmerican Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), (b) ACTFL-aligned assessments of reading, listening, grammar, and vocabulary skills, and (c) the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS). In addition, course activities surveys provided additional information about student perceptions of course activities. Participants in this study came from various countries as they prepared to attend a U.S. university in Hawaii.The distance learning program fostered language proficiency through various learning activities, with an emphasis on synchronous dialogue over video chat technologies. In addition to English-language proficiency, the program sought to help students learn to effectively communicate with students from other cultures. Cross-cultural proficiency was fostered through cross-cultural dialogue with tutors, teachers, and other students. Students showed improvement in speaking, listening, vocabulary, and grammar. However, on average, students did not show an improvement in reading proficiency. Students reported that dialogue with tutors and teachers was among the most helpful activities in learning English. Students showed some improvement in cultural proficiency. However, this improvement was not universal across all measures of cultural proficiency. Students reported that certain activities—particularly dialogue with tutors and other students—as helpful in developing cross-cultural proficiencies.This study also investigated the relationship between language proficiency and cultural proficiency. Results were mixed. With a few exceptions, cultural proficiency did not predict a student’s language proficiency at the beginning of the course, during the course, or at the end of the course.

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