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Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

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




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Creative Commons License

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

Keywords and Subject Headings

ESL, ELL, education, interruptions, communication, classroom


As many English language learners (ELLs) enter mainstream classes, they will begin interacting with native English speakers (NESs) in small group learning settings. This thesis examines the interactions between NESs and non-native English speakers (NNESs) working on small group learning assignments during an ESL and Culture class.

The study focuses on types of interruptions that the participants use to communicate. The three categories that students' verbal exchanges were separated into are non-interruptive, cooperatively interruptive and intrusively interruptive. Using this data along with a questionnaire, the interactions between NESs and NNESs in a small group environment are analyzed as they relate to several factors, such as dominance and group participation.

The participant observation results indicate that intrusively, NESs interrupt more than NNESs. Yet, the results also point out that the interruptions labeled as cooperative are equal in number for NESs and NNESs. The level of interaction varies greatly from group to group, and is affected by dysfunctional group membership. The results also show that NESs lead group discussions with more intrusive interruptions than NNESs. Both NESs and NNESs indicate that cultural differences can interfere with effective communication. Yet, the single positive comment given on the questionnaire which also referenced cultural differences stated that group work can lead to better cultural awareness.

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