The Struggling English Language Learners: Case Studies of English Language Learning Difficulties in EFL Context

  •  Sultan H. Alharbi    


The term ‘struggling language learner’ is one that is usually ascribed to students who are trying, without much success to master the English language in an academic setting. As a case study, this study was carried out to gain insights into the ‘struggles’ of the struggling English as a foreign language (EFL) learners. Ten students were selected from those with the 20th least percentile in their English language courses. Observation of and discussion with these categories of learners revealed that many language learners had a point at which they began to take learning English language more seriously. In such positive or negative situations, their language learning journey improved therefrom. The findings showed that 80% of the participants believed that their English language proficiency was ‘very good’, while 20% of these participants believed that their English language proficiency was ‘average’. Also, the findings indicated that there was a statistically significant association (i.e., p < .05) between English language proficiency of the learners and the following observable attributes: willingness to learn for educational purposes; willingness to learn for career development; and students’ continuation without losing focus. The study proposes a fresh evaluation of the problems faced by EFL struggling learners by bringing to light a multifaceted, meaningful consideration of their learning attitudes from socio-psychological point of view, offering a comprehensive account of these learners and their learning difficulties as well as their attitudes and outlook while taking lessons as freshmen at the university.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.