English learners from China and their stories with English the language: A close look at Chinese ESL learners

Lijuan Joanna LI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In the cognitive-psychological process in second language (L2) learning, explicit and implicit knowledge acquisition is always related to automatic and effortful processing. Based on the interlanguage hypothesis and error analysis, this study reviews learning experience of four English learners from China who currently live in Hong Kong. A focus group interview was organized with a convenience sample of four participants whose English proficiency levels distinctively vary. Content analysis was conducted on the verbatim transcripts, and reveals the nature of the participants’ second language input, the types of learning strategies they have employed, the state of their interlanguages, and the types of errors they make. In addition, a piece of written work was analysed to identify errors the participants made. Attempting to advance into the terrain of second language acquisition (SLA) theories, this study answers some specific questions with self-reported information and theoretical exploration. Despite little ground for scientific generalization considering the nature of this multiple case study, it displays to the readers some theoretical insights in terms of English as a Second Language (ESL) Chinese learners studying in Hong Kong. The recommendation is that, instruments like the grammaticality judgement task be employed to catch more information about the nature of learners’ interlanguages. Combined with corpus analysis and computer-aided error analysis, it will add to the body of SLA literature more insightful findings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


language acquisition
Hong Kong
knowledge acquisition
learning strategy
content analysis


Li, L. (2015, February). English learners from China and their stories with English the language: A close look at Chinese ESL learners. Paper presented at the Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong (CESHK) Annual Conference 2015: Developing scholarship in comparative education, The University of Hong Kong, China.