Date of Award

5-2015

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Third Advisor

Steven Hoover

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

Writing in a foreign language is one of the most difficult and anxiety-inducing activities that language learners encounter (Barwick, 1995, Rife & Stacks, 1992). Meditation has been found to lessen student anxiety and increase mindfulness. Increased mindfulness and decreased anxiety aid students’ academic performance (Goldin, Ramel, & Gross, 2009, Heeren & Philippot, 2011). This study investigated the effects of a single 5-minute guided meditation session on student in intermediate to advanced levels of an intensive English program. Student participants crafted two essays, one with no outside influence and one following the meditation. Essays were then compared to ascertain whether the single meditative session had any bearing on overall length, presence of cohesive markers, and diversity of vocabulary. Participants were also given a survey assessing their writing anxiety and general sense of mindfulness both before their first essay, and prior to any meditation, and following their second essay when they had participated in the meditation. Finally, selected students were interviewed individually to acquire a more in-depth response to the experience.

There were no significant differences in passage length, presence of cohesive markers, and vocabulary in the compositions written following a session of meditation. While the survey results were insignificant overall, five questions from the writing anxiety questions did show significance. Interestingly, while some of the significant questions seemed to indicate a positive response to the meditation, others did the opposite. The participants in the post-meditation qualitative interviews all indicated that they would enjoy the opportunity to regularly participate in classroom meditations were they offered.

Overall, this study shows that one session of meditation does not strongly affect students’ writing or associated sense of anxiety. However, a longer study investigating the relationship between meditation and writing in the ESL context may provide more significant results.

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