Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Patricia Davis-Wiley

Committee Members

Ilona Leki, Judith Boser, Edward Counts


This dissertation study reports the findings of a qualitative interview study examining the issues of international graduate students who pursue their graduate degrees in U.S.-based TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) discourse communities. Through in-depth interviews with nine international graduate students, in four different U.S. institutions, this study explored international graduate students’ perceptions of their respective TESOL graduate programs, and, their academic discourse socialization processes. Based on the notion of situated learning and critical discourse perspectives in TESOL education, the interview data were analyzed through inductive and interpretive analysis.

The findings of this study reveal that the international graduate students’ perceptions of their respective TESOL graduate programs were varied, depending on the availability of assistance, support, and equal opportunities. Furthermore, when they could relate what they learned, based on their personal experiences and their future teaching environments, their perceptions of their discourse communities were positive, and their academic discourse socialization processes progressed. Academic discourse socialization processes, however, were not only social and political, but also personal and individual. Nevertheless, this study found that international graduate students in the U.S.-based TESOL discourse communities do not simply embrace the practices and knowledge of their discourse communities, rather, they negotiate, resist, and strategize. The latter appeared specifically through their utilization of insiders’ knowledge about their native EFL (English as a Foreign Language) contexts and cultures, and their own ESL (English as a Second Language) learner experiences in various academic activities. This study suggests that international graduate students are contributing members in TESOL discourse communities. They also have the potential to transform western-centered TESOL discourse communities into a more open and inclusive space for learning and exchanging ideas. Supportive environments of TESOL discourse communities are crucial for this to be accomplished.

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