JOURNAL ARTICLE

The experiences of students with English as a second language in a baccalaureate nursing program

Susan Sanner, Astrid Wilson
Nurse Education Today 2008, 28 (7): 807-13
18448206
Teaching nursing students with English as a second language (ESL) can be a challenge for nursing faculty in many English speaking countries. This qualitative study purported to answer the research question, "How do students with ESL describe their experiences in a nursing program"? to develop a better understanding of the reasons for their course failure. Seidman's Model of in-depth interviewing (1998) consisting of three successive interviews with the same participant was used. The first interview focused on the students' life histories, the second allowed the participants to reconstruct the details of their experiences, and the third encouraged the students to reflect on the meaning of their experiences. Three themes emerged, "walking the straight and narrow", "an outsider looking in", and "doing whatever it takes to be successful." Although each participant shared instances where ESL may have contributed to his/her academic difficulty, the participants did not perceive that ESL was the primary reason for course failure, but attributed it to the discrimination and stereotyping they experienced. In spite of the discrimination and stereotyping, participants reported a strong desire to persist in the nursing program. Findings from this study provided an in-depth understanding of the perceptions of three nursing students with ESL. Also, the findings are applicable to nursing faculty in that a better understanding of students with ESL can enhance their learning.

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