A Qualitative Phenomenological Investigation of Pre-university English as a Second Language Learners’ Experiences in Malaysia
This research study explicitly analyses pre-university learners’ individual learning experiences of English as a second language in a public university in Malaysia. In an attempt to gauge participants’ individual learning experiences, this study drew from Skinner’s (1957) behaviourism, Krashen’s (2020) nonnative language acquisition and Vygotsky’s (1974) sociocultural theories of learning. The behaviourism theory puts forth that learning a second language is a mechanical process which relies heavily on habit formation (Skinner, 1957). Krashen’s (2020) nonnative language acquisition and Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theories, on the other hand, posit that a new language is naturally and effortlessly acquired through social interactions that require cognitive reasoning (Vygotsky, 1978). The qualitative findings received from one to one unstructured interviews were analysed in relation to the aforesaid theories. The findings revealed that informants studied English for university admission and that their sociocultural environment inhibited them from speaking the language outside the classroom. Discerning that the conventional teaching of English would not help them to attain their goal, informants though asserted to experience a drop in motivation throughout their English course, established an artificial linguistic environment for them to receive comprehensible inputs of English from various sources. Four out of five informants affirmed their preference to learn English in English speaking nations to be able to practice English in the wider community, while one underlined his/her preference for non-English speaking nations due to the fear of having difficulties in understanding accented English and of being laughed for his/her poor command English by native English speakers. Frequent addition of the linguistic suffix ‘lah’ from Bahasa Malaysia was added to standard English by local informants, leading to the creation of a hybrid landscape. Pedagogical implications for second language teaching and learning are raised alongside a revision of the structure, content and teaching strategies of existing English as a second language course.