Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



Degree Granting Department

Graduate School

Major Professor

John I. Liontas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sanghoon Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.


Community of practice, ESL, Ethics of Care, Narrative inquiry


The purpose of this study was three-fold. First, it aimed to focus on the experiences of Syrian female refugees studying English online and examine their reactions. Second, it researched the impact learning English online had on their identity as language learners. Third, it investigated how learning English online affected their daily life interactions in their new environment.

The participants in this study were nine Syrian female refugees, but the stories highlighted the experiences of two focal participants. Through narrative inquiry, I collected stories about their perceptions of the online English course and how they used English in and out of the online class. To study English online, the participants used two online platforms: MyTime English to access the English materials and Google Meet to hold the synchronous sessions. All participants received training in using the online platforms prior to beginning the online course, which lasted eight weeks. Data was collected through interviews, online observations and video recordings, participants’ journals, and researcher reflections. In writing the narratives, I adopted

Clandinin and Connelly’s (2000) three-dimensional space approach, which allowed for a rich and comprehensive view of participants’ lives and experiences. I combined and juxtaposed narratives to present various perspectives.

The narratives provided a rich understanding of participants’ experiences and showed how studying English online served to result in changes in their lives on various levels: personal, educational, and social. Analysis showed how online language learning impacted the way they viewed English and allowed for more autonomy. Furthermore, it affected their lifestyles and attitudes. Dual language instruction had a major role in influencing attitudes and comprehension and gave rise to a sense of equality. The participants also negotiated their identities as language learners in multiple ways. Those were impacted by community of practice to which they belonged, motivation, ethics of care, family support, and dual language instruction. This research serves to highlight the importance of online-language learning to refugees both as a tool and as a means that can positively influence perceptions about themselves as productive language learners.